Saturday, I celebrated my 4 year anniversary in Peru. Hooray!!! It is fun to celebrate anniversaries, because it gives you a time to reflect of where you started to where you are now. In some ways, it seems like such a long time, and in other ways, I feel like I just got here and have so much more to learn culturally, with the language, but most importantly, about myself.
These past 4 months can be summed up as a snapshot of what the past 4 years have been like. Ugly moments intertwined with beautiful moments. The words ugly and beautiful which are complete opposites seem to be bouncing back and forth in my head a lot these days.
There have been times when life has just been downright ugly….with all the riots in the US over racial tension, political issues, and now the hurricanes and fires. So much destruction. Here in Peru, it is personal conflict, stress, and sickness and death that have impacted me. And also…….there is me. I have been ugly too. In my attitude, in my behavior, and in my heart. I have found that sometimes when there is so much ugly, it is an uphill battle to find beauty again. But if you don’t, the ugly can consume you; and make you into a person you are not meant to be. Have you ever looked back to a time after a crisis to re-evaluate your reaction and behavior and be completely frustrated at how you handled it? Yep, that’s me. You think back over your behavior and words and you can’t believe that this is you. Do you know there are a few verses in the bible that talk exactly about this:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Romans 7:15-20 New International Version
Wow! Well, that just about sums up my ugliness. So then what do we do about our ugly? Well, its obvious right? Surround yourself with beauty….It seems so simple, yet I think in our busy lives, we forget to search for the beauty because we are so caught up in the fast pace life that we forget. Thankfully, in Romans 7: 24-25 it says: What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Beauty that our God provided through Jesus is the antidote to the things that affect the ugliness we experience. Beauty can include walking in nature, a hug, or even in a conversation. Often, we are blinded from the beauty during the ugly moments. But, it is there, you just have to look for it.
So, while there were those hard ugly moments these past months, I am so thankful to be reminded that God makes EVERYTHING beautiful in its time.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11
I want to share with you some incredibly beautiful moments that I have had and I celebrate and thank God for allowing me to have them.
In July, I was invited to the annual fund raising event in California for Free Wheelchair Mission by some very generous friends! I had a really wonderful time connecting with MANY people who have the same passion to get people off the ground and give them the gift of mobility through a simple wheelchair. It really was like a FWM family reunion where I got to see many people who I have had the privilege to host when the FWM teams come down to help participate in the process to give the wheelchairs to those in need. And the best part was being able to celebrate the millionth wheelchair recipient, Flor, who is from Peru! It was such an honor to be a part of such a monumental event!
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11
The hard part of delivering wheelchairs is usually there is a heart wrenching story (the ugly) that causes the family to ask for the wheelchair, but the beauty is that with this wheelchair, we were able to give her the gift of mobility AND share the gift of receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior, and that is truly BEAUTIFUL....
The beginning of September started out with a visit from a friend and pastor (Meaghan Wall) of special needs ministry in Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Tx. She came to teach a class to volunteers in the church how to manage situations when presented in a crisis with an aggressive person or child. This class teaches a nonviolent approach for decreasing the tension before it gets to a physical stage; and then some tools to use if in fact it does become a physical. This class was prompted by a few events (the ugly) that have occurred in the past few months where strategies like this would have been very helpful to have. While most people can handle a crisis situation, it may not always be handled in the best way to prevent injury and or embarrassment, and promote the person/family's return to church. This was the first time a class like this has been taught in CDV and we had a very good turnout with 74 people attending the class!!!! I am so excited to see how this class can now be shared by those who attended to their teams so that if another crisis occurs, they can be called into action.
Lastly, I want to tell you about this sweet boy Jacob, who recently started attending one of the CDV locations Sunday morning with his family. He has a severe seizure disorder and a very high activity level. He has been on many medications and seen many specialists and still continues to have uncontrollable seizures. Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to meet his mom and introduce myself after having spent the past hour with him and the volunteer leader at that location problem solving how to help him during his time in the Sunday school service. When I introduced myself to his mom, I started out by telling her how happy we are that we get to spend this time with her beautiful son. After hearing these words, she burst out into tears. None of us expected this reaction at my very simple words, and for a moment, I had no idea what to do or say. So, I asked her why she was crying. And she said this....."We have been to many churches in the past years. But there has not been one that has valued and loved my children like you do here at this church." WOW! SO SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!!! This is why we go through the ugly hard moments!!!!!!!!!!!! And I praise God that YOU ALL continue to make it possible to let me stay here to continue to help other parents and kids feel this very same way.
On a personal note, Clever and I ask for your prayers. Many people are asking about a date for the wedding and our answer remains the same. "We are not sure yet, but before the end of this year." That may sound like a really weird answer, but it is because we have applied for a fiance visa so that we can marry in the US and then come back to Peru for a reception here in Peru before the end of the year. Yesterday, we received word that they have accepted our application that we sent in March and are now processing our documents and performing background checks etc....This process can last up to 1 month and then we would get a letter telling us (hopefully) that we are approved and ready for the interview date at the embassy. This also could be as long as 1 more month but could be less time. That would bring us to a Thanksgiving or end of Nov/early Dec wedding. We are asking for specific prayer that the process goes faster than anticipated so that we could have the time to plan the wedding instead of finding out 2 weeks before the date if it is a yes or no. Of course, we are trusting that God's timing is perfect and know that He has already gone before us and knows every step of the way. Thank you!!!!
Blessings and peace to you all. May you look for beauty every day.....
****Some people have been incredibly generous and have added an extra donation on my support for "special gift" for the wedding. While Clever and I are incredibly grateful for your generosity, my agency can not process special gifts as a tax donation. Therefore, if you feel led to provide a special gift for the wedding, please contact me privately to make other arrangements. As always, thank you.*****