The Bethadilly Challenge: March 28 – 31

So long, March. You were amazing.

March 28: something I’m proud of {I’m proud of how my photography has improved since December. it’s not perfect, or where I want it to be, but I can definitely see a change in my pictures and in my confidence}

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March 29: feet {Milo’s little feet are my favorite}

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March 30: still {it’s easy to get impatient with God when His timing doesn’t match up with your own. but then He reminds me to “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” no matter how I feel, or whether or not I feel equipped for where God has called me, He will remain sovereign}

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March 31: square {a little duck in a square}

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Grateful Heart Monday: because it’s been too long

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Currently: taking a break from homework to write this.

Today was most definitely a Monday.

I started teaching Math today, and as I went to sit on the stool to teach my students about 3D objects, I missed it completely, and fell on the floor.

Me as I fell:

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No one knew what to do, including me, and I just laid on the floor for a minute, and then started teaching while still sitting down. A student told me I should have recorded it, and put it on AFV. Definitely, kid. Definitely…

But later today I had an awesome job interview with two amazing ladies, so in the end, I think my day was redeemed. I also had coffee, and they bought me a bagel with honey walnut cream cheese. I also snagged a re-fill (most likely illegal) and so I have coffee for tomorrow morning waiting for me in the fridge.

Sometimes I like to dwell on bad things that happen. I texted a bunch of people about the incident, and also made a big deal about how I also hurt my elbow. Looking back, I had a pretty great day. I even got to talk to my mom, and I get to see my parents this coming weekend! Yay for holidays!

So, today I’m grateful that:

  • I only hurt my elbow (and my pride), but that I was able to get through the rest of my lesson.
  • I had a great interview
  • Monday isn’t the only day for fresh starts
  • I won’t fall tomorrow (hopefully)
  • I had a bagel
  • my mom loves me, and has become my best friend

What are you grateful for today? Go check out Ember Grey to see what Emily is grateful for today. 🙂

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A Soltane Saturday

Friends are important.

It’s not always easy living off campus – sometimes I feel disconnected from the rest of the college. Not to mention, most people think I already graduated because I’m student teaching and hardly ever on campus.

But then there are days like today. I met Natalie and Amy at Soltane Breads and Spreads in downtown Phoenixville. I had never been there before, and was excited to spend time talking and drinking coffee with two ladies that I want to get to know a little bit better. They are both so incredibly sweet, and I’m thankful for the time we had together this morning. 🙂

Soltane itself is small and cozy, and I loved all the details that makes it special. There were quite a few people getting coffee and bagels this morning, but I was still able to snag us a spot by the window.

I had a chai latte, and even though it was a little watery, there was nothing a bit of sugar couldn’t fix. I can’t wait to hang out with these ladies again, and find another great coffee spot like Soltane.

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The Bethadilly Challenge: March 20th – 27th

Our Peru trip really messed up my Bethadilly Challenge posts. I was taking pictures every day (and I took a lot of pictures), but usually forgot to check the prompt before we went out to work. However, I am back! Here are my latest Bethadilly shots. 🙂

March 20: something old {this is a little doll that I used to play with at my grandparents’ house. my grandma gave me the doll as a wedding present}

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March 21: a bottle {this is an empty bottle of Inca Kola. we have a bottle collection, and thought this would be a perfect addition}

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March 22: sunday morning {eating watermelon with the hope that Spring will come back soon & actually stay for a while}

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March 23: me {I really hate selfies, so I decided to take a picture of something that represents me – one of my favorite spoons given to me by my friend Kelly. it has my name on the end, and even though it says “my coffee spoon,” I use it for tea. it’s a little bit dented, but also dainty, and I feel like I’m that way sometimes}

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March 24: on the floor {lying on the floor in our apartment because it’s cozy and beautiful}

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March 25: what I’m looking at {tea in my favorite mug}

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March 26: my addiction {alfajors & dulce de leche. if you don’t know what they are, I’m sorry.}

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March 27: salty {I made Aji de Gallina – a Peruvian dish with chicken and rice and other perfect spices. for being a Gringa, I think it came out pretty great}

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Things I’ve Learned: Post Missions Trip

On Sunday, it will be two weeks since we returned to the States. The past two weeks have been spent getting back into the groove and routine of balancing work, babysitting, and student teaching. I envy my peers that have been able to stay at their original student teaching placements, and have found it really difficult to find the motivation to lesson plan and fulfill the remaining requirements needed for my degree. I like my class at my new placement, but I really miss all of my students at Renaissance. 😦

Since I’ve been back, I’ve wanted to write something that will help me debrief. In ten short days, I, and the rest of my team experienced a wide range of emotions, and then had to jump right back into “normal life.” It’s been difficult at times to come to terms with the fact that I can’t hop on a plane and go right back to South America. I still can’t do that, right?

In the past few days, I’ve had time to reflect, and want to share with you a few things that I’ve learned – post missions trip.

1. American bathrooms are beautiful and should never be taken for granted: I don’t know if I can describe to you the pain I felt when my body was consumed with the need to pee, and had to wait in a long line in the airport in Bogota because there were only four stalls, and that was the only bathroom remotely near our gate. Words cannot describe the feeling of entering a stall and realizing you forgot toilet paper … and it isn’t provided for you. Or how about the smell that builds as the mountain of used toilet paper grows higher and higher because you can’t flush it. Let’s not even talk about how much more accessible soap is here in the United States. I love my little blue apartment bathroom more than ever before.

2. Traffic in America is tame compared to traffic overseas: My life almost ended at least 5 times when we were in Iquitos. The moto taxis whiz through the streets, beeping at other drivers to get out of the way, and barely miss the countless number of open man holes that appear on every street. There are no doors on the taxis, and if you have a backpack, you better hold onto it, or someone might reach over and take it when you’re casually sitting at a red light.

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3. Everything sounds better in Spanish: Does this even need to be said? My newest goal in life is to become fluent in Spanish. I’m actually quite close to achieving it, but just need more practice. Songs sound more beautiful in Spanish. Jokes are funnier in Spanish. Insults are more intense in Spanish. Fights are more passionate in Spanish. Ordering food is more exciting in Spanish. But I think you get my point.

4. American money is really quite ugly: moneyCan we just use soles from now on?

5. Owning a car is overrated: Even though my life almost ended at least 5 times, I miss driving in the moto taxis, and how inexpensive it was to get around. In the past week, we’ve paid over $40 for gas. That would take care of transportation in Iquitos for about a month, maybe more. Not only is transportation cheap, but it’s reliable. We would walk out of our hotel, and four taxis would swarm around us. Caleb and I are looking forward to the day when we can sell our car, and move to South Korea where we don’t have to pay for insurance or gas. I’m ready for that day. 🙂

6. I’m spoiled. You’re spoiled. We’re all spoiled: Life in America is cushioned, and we don’t even realize it. Men and women who are on welfare and rely on food stamps are more blessed and well off than some of the people we met in Iquitos. We take for granted our freedoms, and the way that the government takes care of the American people. I don’t care what you have to say about our President, or the way our government is being run – we are blessed, and should spend less time complaining, and more time praying for our leaders. We have access to so many things (like reliable healthcare, running & clean water, electricity, and the ability to flush toilet paper), and although our country is not perfect by any standards, it’s important to try and find a new perspective every once in a while.

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Because of how blessed we are as Americans, it is vital that each person discover how they can bless others in return. Whether it is volunteering your time, or simply giving a check to your local non-profit organization (like Alzamora International), we all have a purpose, and we all have something to offer the world. Discover what that is, and run with it.

Everyone wants to make a difference and feel important. However, change won’t be accomplished if we remain selfish and complacent. Loving others and making a change takes risk and a commitment to offer precious time and resources. It’s not easy, but it’s more than worth it.

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Let’s teach the next generation about the value of generosity. We are consumed by our possessions, but in the end, that’s not what will bring us into Eternity, or provide us with true happiness.

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So, what can you offer the world today?

If you have been on a missions trip recently or in the past, what are some things you learned after returning to the States?

Peru: all the days I haven’t written about yet

The last time I wrote was on Thursday, and I was kind of sappy, and lamented over the fact that we were leaving in a few days. But now we’re back, and both Caleb and I can say with certainty that our time on the mission field has only just begun. It’s comforting when God confirms things like that, isn’t it?

I’ll say it again – we don’t know God’s timing, and as of right now, we have too many loans to become full time missionaries as soon as I graduate. If anyone feels led to send us a check for $80,000, I won’t say no. I’m actually not kidding at all about that. If anything, believe in prayer with us that God will provide the money we need to pay off our school debt.

Thursday in itself was a tough day. I wrote that sad post, and then our team split up; the girls went to do children’s ministry at the school in Punchana, and the guys went to do some work on the bathroom remodeling. We did our usual songs and puppet show, played two games, handed out candy, and then I gave the message. I had originally planned to tell the story about the Good Samaritan, but felt like I was supposed to give a salvation message instead. When I gave it, no one listened. The teachers sat in the back of the room as the kids talked over me. But I pushed through, and even though I felt like my words fell to the ground, there was still a group of children that came up to the front and asked Jesus into their hearts. There was one girl in particular that I had connected with the previous day, and she ran up to the front and I prayed with her. Once I finished praying, I told her that she was precious and that God loved her more than anyone else could ever love her. I then started to cry because once again, I realized that this was the last time I was probably ever going to tell these specific children about Jesus. Bill most likely thought I was crazy, but it’s okay. 😉

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Craft time was also hectic, and once again, none of the teachers helped us as we tried to teach them how to make Gospel bead bracelets (each color bead represents a different part of the salvation story). As soon as I brought out candy and prizes, I was pushed into a corner, and attacked by little hands wanting packets of starbursts. In the end, Valerie and I both felt drained and defeated. Before we left, I helped Janet paint faces, and did my best to paint more spiders and hearts. It became even more clear that I wasn’t created to become a face painter.

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This picture is from Wednesday when Caleb was a clown. The kids loved him. 🙂
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We said our goodbyes, and then headed off to Belen to check in with the guys. When we got to Belen, the high schoolers were on their break, so I started passing out candy and glow bracelets. I started talking to one boy and more high schoolers trickled in and joined the group. We sat down and I showed them how to make the Gospel bracelets, and they opened up to me about what they want to do with their futures. One girl said she was inspired to help other people because our group came and helped them. I was able to spend a couple of hours with them, and was once again amazed at how the Lord works. I will be the first to say that I have never felt called to work with youth, yet here I was interacting with the students that had talked over my testimony just a few days earlier….and loving every minute of it.

As for the bathroom, we were unable to finish it completely, but the guys were able to put up most of the walls!

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Before we left to go back to our hotel, Percy took Valerie and I to see Juan and Axel’s house.

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Their family lives in a one room shack, and Juan & Axel sleep on a board with a thin sheet. Their mom sleeps on the other bed with their little sister Suli, and their dad sleeps in a hammock. Valerie and I had written them goodbye letters, and also made them little bracelets and necklaces. Axel took my letter, and carefully placed it in his drawer with the rest of his personal items. He gave me a huge hug, and then smiled that adorable smile where his tooth hangs over his lip.

We said goodbye, and then headed off to our hotel, which doesn’t seem fair.

That night, the team split up and went to two different church services. Bill, Kristen, Valerie, Samantha, Elias, Joe, Jennifer, Janet, and I went to the service in Punchana; Kristen and I led worship with Bill, and Elias preached. At the end of his sermon, Elias gave an altar call for people that wanted the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. We prayed over people that came to the altar, and at one point, the lights turned off completely. Even then, the presence of the Lord was so powerful, and we just prayed louder until the lights came back on.

Friday was an exciting day. We went on a boat ride down the Amazon, visited a wildlife animal sanctuary, and danced with the Bora tribe. We ate lunch overlooking the water, and even ate some grubs in the market.

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I’d have to say the highlight of the day was holding the sloth – it was SO slow, and I still have a hard time believing it was actually real. The grub on the other hand, was terrible. Not that I was expecting to love it, but Andrew Zimmern lied to me. Friday night we left Iquitos and flew back to Lima.

Saturday was spent at a few different places.

1) San Cristobal hill:

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2) The Cathedral of Lima:

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3) A market that sold souvenirs

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4) A Brazilian Steakhouse (amazing)

5) Bill’s House where we debriefed and ate tres leches & flan

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Sunday morning, we got up early & flew from Lima to Bogota, Bogota to JFK, and then drove two and a half hours to Phoenixville. Everyone was excited to be back home.

Looking back, I can say with certainty that this trip was life changing. Caleb and I have a little more direction as to what we know we are supposed to do on the mission field, and are continuing to pray for God to show us where we are supposed to go and when.

We are so thankful that we were able to connect with the Shraders; they are great examples of what missionaries should be like, are great parents, and welcoming hosts. I think I speak for the whole team when I say this was the best missions trip I have ever been on.

I learned about the true meaning of simplicity, and the genuine joy and contentment that is found when you seek God wholeheartedly & understand that He is all you need.

We’re still on an emotional/spiritual high, but I pray that we never forget the poverty, and the hopelessness, and the struggles that Iquitos showed to us.

I love that my life is a life of purpose, but I can’t afford to lose focus on what I know God has called me to do.

For the next few months we’ll be in the States, but I’m so excited to see where our next adventure will take us.

Thursday

How is it already Thursday?

I don’t understand why time has decided to fly by.

Everything within me wants to turn back time. Yesterday as we had our nightly debriefing, I began to cry. Some of my team members might have thought it was because I didn’t get to spend time with the kids doing the craft, or because something Bill said was so profound that it brought a tear to my eye. 😉 Or maybe they didn’t realize that I was crying because I’m an expert at hiding it, and thought I was wiping away dirt that had flown into my eye on our last moto taxi ride. Whatever the case, my heart is heavy as I type this; it took four long years for me to return to Peru, and last night I began to wonder when I’ll be back next, if ever again. God has called both Caleb and I to be missionaries, but in the end, both of us need to be in one accord as to where we decide to plant our roots. It would be selfish for me to say, “We’re called to Peru,” if Caleb isn’t completely sure in his heart as well. So, I continue to trust & wait. The process is never easy, but as I’ve seen on this trip, the results of doing things in God’s timing are always so beautiful and perfect.

If I were to bet how many people on our team were afraid when we arrived in Iquitos, I’d be a very rich person, and then I’d be able to pay off all our school debt, and enter the mission field right away. Then again, Pentecostals don’t bet, right? Right.

I know we were all scared, but I think we were scared for different reasons. Some of us All of us were scared because, hello – this place is an entirely new world. It smells, there’s garbage everywhere, and walking the streets at night alone is just another way of saying, “I think I want to get robbed tonight.” Pedestrians don’t have the right of way, and moto taxis decide whether or not you’re going to return home with all your limbs intact. Thankfully, we all run fast, and have common sense to look both ways.

But for me, it was a different kind of fear. I’ve written before about my struggle with the fear of failure. I want to please everyone all the time, and I’ve realized that I struggle with being a perfectionist because I don’t want people to leave or to stop loving me. During the ride to our hotel the night we arrived in Iquitos, this fear of failure came at me the way moto taxis come at our group every time we cross the street. I felt attacked, and almost incapacitated. I thought about our children’s program, and realized that we had written two skits, but never practiced them. I realized that I still didn’t know the movements to “Jesus is My Superhero.” And I realized that I forgot to pack scissors. What if they don’t have scissors in Iquitos?

As one of the leaders of this trip, my strongest desire is that this group paves the way for future ministry. I want Bill & Lena to love us so much that they say, “bring back groups every year from Valley Forge.” As I thought about this desire, my fear said, “you’re going to ruin everything.”

But you know what? This trip has been an incredible blessing. Someone commented on a photo I posted on Facebook and said, “I give you so much credit for doing this.” A huge part of me wanted to respond and say, “Thank you so much!” What person wouldn’t want to accept a compliment that acknowledges how good he or she is? But the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let me. I wasn’t able to take the credit because I really haven’t done anything. If I were doing the things we’ve done in my own strength, I would be dehydrated and lying in a manhole, and my beloved Canon would be floating around the Black Market.

We have completed three days of children’s ministry and completed a big chunk of the bathroom remodeling. On Tuesday, we spoke to the high school students that go to the school in Belen, and three of us (and Bill) gave our testimonies. We all felt extremely sick and run down, yet as soon as I got up to speak, I felt like I had been refilled, and I was able to tell them what God has done in my life. Samantha and Elias gave their testimonies as well, and the little mama bear in me was so happy that they put aside any fears or anxiety they had, and spoke to the teenage group. In reality, the guys on the team are the real heroes, and have been working so hard every day to mix cement and lay the bricks for the bathroom walls. Joe from Colorado is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met, but is also humble and has such a sweet spirit about him. I’m so glad that Joe, Jennifer, and Percy decided to join us here in Peru. I’m especially proud of Caleb, and am continually thankful that God brought us together. You would never know that he had never laid brick before, because he learned so quickly and did it like a pro. It becomes more and more evident to me how well we balance each other out.

Each and every day we have dealt with heat, rain, exhaustion, changed schedules, and even a few scary dogs, but we have somehow still ended our days feeling accomplished, renewed, and filled with joy. We walk on rickety wooden planks every day, and get bit by pesky mosquitos, but we remain united and have deepened our friendships. That, my friends, is the hand of God.

Side Note: through it all, there has been minimal complaining – with the exception of my table at dinner last night when our waiter told us they didn’t have frozen lemonade, and then the other waitress brought the rest of our team frozen lemonades. But I digress.

There are so many stories I could tell, like how we get churros every night from the same sixteen year old girl who has a nine-month old baby at home, or how we all worked together yesterday to mix concrete and laughed hysterically at all of Percy’s jokes. Or about how sometimes the way they do things in Peru just don’t make sense, but you go along with it because it’s all a part of the journey.

I could tell you about how some of the children at the schools are abused and unloved, and poverty is a reality that most, if not all of them will never escape. Some of the high school girls we met might have babies this time next year, and most will end up selling chickens at the market, and won’t make more than a dollar a day. Yet, they have a purpose. If they could only see their potential.

Yesterday we visited a school in Punchana, and even though there is an incredible difference between the children in Punchana and the children in Belen, they still live in an extremely hopeless place.

But what I will tell you is that this week, these people have heard about the love of Jesus. In the grand scheme of things, we are just a drop in the bucket/ocean of their lives. Two days at each school is not enough time, but that’s mostly because I’m selfish, and I don’t want to go back to my regular life in the States. I don’t want to student teach at an American school- can’t I finish it here?

However, the Lord reminded me this morning that I am just His planter. I have been given a packet of seeds, and am responsible for sowing them wherever I go. Not only in Peru, but in Phoenixville as well. Our team was never called to save these children, but instead to sow seeds in their hearts, and to trust that the Lord will do the rest of the work. We now have a responsibility to continue to pray for these children and their communities, and to make others aware of the need here in Iquitos.

If any of you are interested in learning more about how you can sponsor a child here in Iquitos, or give to one of the many projects that Percy has planned, please let me know.

Today we are doing our last children’s service at the school in Punchana, and tomorrow we are taking a trip to see the Bora Tribe on the Amazon. We have lived six adventurous days, and I feel like this is still just the beginning.

Continue to pray for our team, and once again, thank you for your love and support as we finish out our last few days in Iquitos.

Kelly