Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Last weeks

Christmas is in the air... I know you must think I am crazy or jumping the gun a little bit, but when you live in a country that doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving and work in a ministry that gets done with classes and goes on vacation the first weeks in December, you are allowed to get started early with somethings. Actually, Kami and I have had our Christmas tree up since sometime in mid-September. I admit that might be pushing it, but we enjoy it.

isn't it beautiful

Tonight is our last En Vivo of the semester. We are going to tell the Christmas story, sing Christmas songs and even give each of the students a little present from El Pozo. The campus house is decorated and with Christmas music playing through the speakers, we are getting in the spirit.

So I said I live in a country that doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving...well that is mostly true. It is not an official holiday or anything like that but for like 200ish poeple there will be a Thanksgiving celebration on Thursday afternoon. The plan is to turn our front lawn into a huge family dining room by eating all together picnic style on blankets.

yard today, family dining room on Thursday

We don't currently have enough tables and chairs to sit everyone and in our area out back we are getting windows put in so it is unusable for the next week. We will continue with last years tradition of having all the students make turkey hands, write what they are thankful for, and then place them on a tree painted on the wall in hopes of filling the now bare tree with leaves. How they get from being turkey hands to leaves is a whole other story.

leafless today, full onThursday

Also this year we have invited all the kids from the kids home to celebrate with us. They are 55 people there. I am hoping that our students will integrate with them and get a passion to reach out to them more throughout the year.

Speaking of the kids home, last week we started passing out letters each of the kids wrote for Christmas. We still have 6 to get sponsored, but I am sure they will get taken tonight. Next Friday the 3rd we will go to the kid's home, have a party with them and give them their presents. Last year it was such a blessing for everyone involved, hoping it will be even bigger this year.

This is the last week of classes for the students, followed by finals. Even though we finish with regular weekly events does not mean we are checking out for the semester. We still have our last Lunada (once a month praise and worship time) and pancakes at 8pm all next week during finals. Then the kid's party on Friday followed by SOL GETTING BAPTIZED on Sunday.

Me, Rebeca, and Sol

Many of you met Sol this past summer when she came to visit with Rebeca and others have heard me talk about her frequently. Sol is a very very talented girl. She loves sports and is super smart. I met her playing flag football many years ago when she just entering college. I actually have a picture on my desk of the first time she came to an El Pozo event back in Fall 2007. She would frequent the house occasionally, I think mostly for the food, but last Fall she began to show up more frequently and not just for the the food. In October of last year I was going to start a bible study with another friend of hers, Laura, so I asked Sol if she wanted to be a part of it. Lets just say she wasn't quite ready, so we just kept praying. Then in January, I asked her again and she was ready. All last semester we (Laura, Sol and I) studied John together, then this semester while Laura was in Europe, Sol and I continued our weekly bible studies reading Acts. A few weeks ago we finished Acts and moved on to Galatians to finish out the semester. In January, Sol shared that her two memories or big experiences with the bible before coming to El Pozo consisted of going to mass every Sunday as a child on an empty stomach so she was thinking of food more than God and then later having to write out the entire bible in syllables for one of her grammar classes. Needless to say, she didn't read the bible much after that. Soooo, she started reading and learning and last week decided she wants to be baptized on Sunday December 5th. I can't think of a better way to end the semester and start the Christmas holidays. Pray for Sol as she continues to study, grow and live out all the stuff she is believing.

More to come after these next two weeks play out. Love you all. Thanks for giving.

Monday, November 1, 2010

This is a long but good one

There is nothing like a weekend full of making memories and great friends to do it with.

On Saturday we had a great time with 16 kids from the orphanage we work with at the American football game at the university. We got there early to get good seats, ate some food, watched our team win another game, then got pictures with some of my friends that are players and coaches. Several of the kids were scared of the big football players but slowly made their way towards them to get their picture. Some of the kids (actually most of them) had enough of the sun and returned to the campus house to play during the second half.

Friend Maqui (player on the left) with some of the kids

friend Chris with the kids

Coach Hector with all of us that made it through the whole game

We are planning another outing with the kids to bowling next Saturday. Then two weeks after that they will come the the campus house to celebrate Thanksgiving with our community. They are great kids and each time we pass time with them, ministry opportunities are created (both for them and our students).

After a great Saturday, we had no choice but to follow it up with a great Sunday. (if you haven't noticed, this actually happened 2 weekends ago...started the blog but got a little distracted) Sunday at 8 am I headed to the campus house to pay for the two 15 passenger vans we rented to go to the beach for the 3 baptisms. At 9am the students started arriving and by the time we left at 10am there were 43 of us packed into cars and vans.

Pibe, Erika, and Raul in the van

Me driving on of the 15 passengers
We got stuck behind some federal police that were guarding the boat of the president. They were going sooo slow and would not let us pass for anything. We were able to take pictures like the one above because we were going so slow.

I don't know if you can tell but there are 3 or 4 federal police trucks, plus all the boat stuff and police cars as well.

Once we finally got to the beach. We unloaded, read some scripture, talked about each girl a bit and then baptized them. Sara went first, then Nala, and then Lulis. We also took some time to just hang out on the beach.

most but not all of us group picture

me and becky chillin on the beach

this is pablo...he just wanted to make it into the blog so i promised him a picture so he wouldn't get jealous of all his friends that were originally going to make it..haha

Nate reading scripture

Kami taking Sara to be baptized

That's joy
Sara has been a part of the community for maybe a year and a half. Her smile lights up any room. She is full of life, intense and has so much love to give.

Amanda and Clay baptized Nala

big family hug
Nala is another girl that always has a smile for you. She started coming around three and a half years ago with a heart of stone in many ways. She had been hurt by everyone in her life, had pretty much given up the thought that there are good poeple in the world, and was mad at God. 3 1/2 years later, after being showed love time after time here at El Pozo, she finally gave in to God. I can't tell you the joy it brings to all of us to see her today compared to when we first met her. We are talking about stories tomorrow in En Vivo and she is going to share part of her story with the community. She sent me her talk and at the end she says today she knows she is a beautiful daughter of God, created not to live life stuck to the wall, like a wallflower, but to DANCE. wow.

Lulis being baptized by Kami and Erin

Lulis has been around off and on since she got to UDLA, but now as she is getting into her final semesters she has really found her place here in the ministry. Some days she gets here not long after I do and is still here when I head home. Deciding to get baptized has upset her mom who is catholic. She has had to deal with many of the family issues that has come from her going against her parents as well as reoccurring health issues. Lulis has Epilepsy which has made life challenging at times. For the past few months, her medicines have been able to control it, but the week before the baptisms she had several really bad episodes. Also last night we were having a birthday dinner for her when she had another seizure, which normally shouldn't occur. Pray for Lulis to be able to push through the rough days and not to let Satan use these health issues to get her down.

This is what life is all about. Bringing light into the darkness. Thank you for being a part of it.