Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Go, Mr. Chubs, Go!!!

AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!! I only have three days left in Peru! Where did all my time go? I am not ready to leave just yet. Sorry I haven’t posted anything in so long, we have been super busy and then I caught the Peruvian death virus. I only call it the death virus because I felt as if I was dying. I am getting better, the doctors gave me lots of medicine. I don’t know what any of the pills are or what they are supposed to do, but I take them. They tried to give me a shot in the butt when they came to my hotel room and I calmly refused (I will define calmly at a later date). The hotel pays for all doctor visits and they come to us, so that is a good thing. The doctor also told me not to drink any cold or hot liquids, as not to further upset my sore throat. (They blame sore throats on drinking cold drinks) This made me question their expertise a bit, but Julie reassured me that this is just a cultural practice and they actually did go to med school. The interns and I like to blame all sickness on the chicha morada, the purple corn drink. Who knows what truly got me though.

The past few days have been a whirlwind. For a couple of days we seemed to go on a tour of children’s homes in Lima. One day we got to go to a boy’s home on the coast and also visit a military base with them. The military base threw a special birthday party for the boys. It was pretty cool to see soilders handing out food, drinks, cake and gifts to the boys. You could tell the boys were so proud for all the attention they were getting. Of course we got to participate in lots of singing and dancing. We also spent time at a Teenage mother home called Santa Rita. We did a two-day program there for the children and moms. This was a really neat experience, although I wish we had more time with the mothers there. Some were so young, and the situations they found themselves in were usually out of their control. Some became pregnant as young as 11 and 12 due to sexual abuse from their households, who knows how long it had been going on before they became pregnant and the abuse could no longer be hidden. The anger and bitterness in the girls at Santa Rita was so evident and heartbreaking. They are still just kids but have to deal with the reality that they are now mothers. Some mothers were very in love with their children, but others showed no interest in their babies. One time I was telling a mother how handsome her baby boy was and she told me I could have him. On our last day there we wanted to do something for the moms so we volunteered to watch all the babies… 15 babies and only 3 interns. So we waited in this room while all the moms dropped off their screaming babies and then we just looked at each other in shock. We were all holding, rocking, singing, dancing, praying, trying to do anything to get them all to calm down. After about 45 minutes of insanity we had things under control and we saw the moms outside playing with Julie and Nydia. They were having the best time just playing games like tag and hanging out talking. So although it wasn’t much, I hope we left the mom’s knowing that we were proud of them and loved them. I wish that home had so much more though, they need parenting classes and people to visit them so that they know that they are loved and appreciated. They are never allowed to leave the home, so they are stuck inside those walls day in and day out. I don’t know how they do it.

On the weekend we played some, shopped some and just hung out. We also went to another church, one that teaches in english, called Flamingo Road. It was really neat and meets in a movie theater. All the interns seriously feel like family now. We should since we spend 24 hours a day together. I love my friends I have made in Peru. Let me introduce you:

Erika is the youngest. She is from Ohio and just graduated from high school. She is hilarious and makes me laugh until I cry, until I cant breathe and my abs are sore. We can often be found running around grocery stores acting like ten year olds. She is so fun and so wise for her age. My favorite thing about her is that she is able to make the craziest, funniest comments all the while keeping a straight face, it just kills me. She also looks like Kate Winslet.

Nydia is from Texas, but was born in Mexico and can speak fluent Spanish. She rocks! She takes a million pictures a day. The clicks of her camera are as constant as the sounds of traffic, horns, and kids. She got a canon rebel the day before she came on this trip and hasn’t stopped experimenting since we got off the plane. She attends Baylor University, is extremely beautiful, smart and funny as well. We think a lot a like about clothes, shoes and food.

Amanda is also from Texas and is 20 years old. She is the most quiet and is very wise. We pick on her a lot for being so smart. She is extremely level-headed, loving and great at sports. She is a missionary kid and her first ten years of life were in Africa, she has also spent a year in Turkey . She’s pretty much awesome to say the least.

Kristi, my roomie, is the oldest of the group and our team leader. She spent 8 years serving in the Marines and has traveled the world. She also spent three years of service in Japan. She hates when you announce these facts, but I am proud of her accomplishments. She grew up in California and now lives in Texas. She has a loud, contagious laugh and is always acting up.

We refuse to talk about the end of our trip and leaving each other this Friday. We all feel that denial is the best approach. Our last week has already proved to be amazing. I won’t say the best, but I do think it is the most important week we have spent here as far as God being able to use us in the lives of others. We are working at a teenage girl’s home about thirty minutes away from our hotel. It is in a bad area, but the home is really nice and has about 40 girls from the ages of 12-17. The girls have welcomed us into their home and although we have only spent two days there we feel so close to them. There are 8 babies at the home, so only a few of the girls there are mothers. We do a morning program with the girls and an afternoon program with the babies. The theme of the week is forgiveness, we are using the life of Joseph again and Julie also requested that we share a testimony each day. My fellow interns decided I should go on Monday, so I already had the priveledge of sharing with those beautiful girls about how God has worked in my life. It was such a special time. I was nervous since I had to share on the very first day, before we had time to really build relationships, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think I was able to bond with the girls more quickly because they got to hear a lot about my life. I copy and pasted my testimony that i shared with them at the bottom of this blog if you feel like reading it. They asked the best questions and listened so intently. The look in their eyes, you could definitely tell that God was working in their hearts. They asked how I was able to forgive others, why should they trust in God, and they were very intrigued because I told them that not all people who go to church are Christians. (part of my testimony is that I grew up in a Christian home and went to church but never had a relationship with God until I was much older) I am in charge of crafts along with Nydia. On Monday we asked the girls to paint a really beautiful picture with bright colors. When they were all done we would walk by and put a black streak of paint on it right in the center without explaining why or showing any emotion. They all said, “Senorita, por que, por que?” It was the worst feeling. At the end of the week we will hand the paintings back to them and they will decide if they want to let the black streak of paint ruin their picture or if they will try to turn it into something beautiful. Im excited to see what happens. Tomorrow I am baking a cake with them to demonstrate the verse Romans 8:28. Pray that this goes well. In the afternoons we do lots of playing, holding and loving. Those babies are so sweet and cute. One baby boy named Paul is my favorite, I call him Mr. Chubs. I am working on trying to get him to crawl this week. He is so chubby he can hardly move, it is hilarious. With the toddlers and three and four year olds, we work on fine motor skills and large motor skills. Julie also acts out stories and sings lots of songs with them. She is so gifted. We are also working on colors and shapes. We have a lot of fun with them in the afternoon, they are so well behaved and seem to love all the attention they are getting this week.

We have been trying to cram a lot into our last few days, seeing our favorite people and going to our favorite places. Tomorrow night we are going to try and either do karaoke or go out for some salsa dancing with everyone to celebrate our last night in Lima. We have been so well taken care of here and will miss everyone so much. I am very excited about seeing my family and friends again though. I will probably do one more post once I am back in the states to tell you how the rest of the week with the girls went. Much love to family and friends! Ciao!

My testimony, this is what I shared with the girls on Monday. I had to type it up and take it with me so in case I got nervous I could just read it.

I grew up hearing the gospel. I knew that Jesus was the Son of God, that He died on the cross for my sins and that He was raised again. My family was very involved in our church, so I thought that because I knew a lot about God and did good things that I was a Christian. I did not truly come to know Christ until much later in life.
I think that I was interested in God, but I did not truly become a believer. I look back and see that I didn't understand that I had a sin problem; I don't think I realized I needed a savior. I tried to do all the right things, make people around me happy, especially my family. I wanted my family to be really proud of me. When I was a teenager some unexpected things in my life happened. A close friend of mine died and my parents decided to divorce. My father moved away and our lives changed. We moved away as well, and I had to leave all the people that I had grown up with. I don’t share these things with you because I want you to feel sorry for me, but they did have a big impact in my life and I think God used them to shape who I am today. I am sure you have been through much harder, bigger things and have to deal with a lot of pain that I cant imagine. But I can tell you that I wasn’t prepared for all these changes or all the hurt I felt. I eventually had an attitude that was filled with hurt, anger, bitterness. On the outside, I tried to let everyone know that I was just fine and I didn’t really care about what was going on, or if other bad things happened I wouldn’t even let myself get upset. I just told myself I didn’t care and things didn’t hurt as much. But it wasn’t good, because I closed myself off to people and didn’t open up with many people at all.
When I was in high school my life became characterized by sin and I didn’t care who saw my sin or who I hurt. I got involved in drinking and drugs and tried to find fulfillment in all the wrong places. I knew I was hurting the people close to me by the way I was living and it didn’t matter to me. I knew that I was getting further and further away from God, but I was so consumed with myself, what I thought I wanted and what I thought was best for me that I didn’t care. Everything was all about me, I was only focused on myself.
Finally when I went to college God used people I met there to change me. I met people who lived their whole life for God, worshipped Him and loved Him. Not because they had to or they were trying to impress people with the good things they did, simply because they were in love with Jesus. They truly understood the gospel, something I could never fully grasp. They knew that God sent his son to die on the cross for sinners, people who were in desperate need of a savior. One of the things that I did when God started working in my heart was go and buy a bible. I began to read the book of romans and as I read I was struck by a few verses. Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The word that stuck out to me was sinners, while we were still sinners. I thought that for you to be a Christian, for God to love you, that you had to be perfect. But the Bible says that Jesus died for sinners. I thought that because of the way I had been living my life for the past couple of years, and the way I was so focused on myself, and angry and bitter inside that I did not deserve God’s love and grace, but I was so wrong, that is the beauty of the gospel, that God looks at our heart, knows every single thing about us, and loves us. My life began to change. The way I thought, the way I looked at people, treated people and lived my life was all different. There is another verse: 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the old has gone, the new has come.”
I wanted to be made new, I wanted to place my whole life in God’s hands, the good , the bad, all of it. I wanted to become who He created me to be, I wanted to bring Him glory. So that my life wasn’t about me, but about Him. I am so thankful that God’s grace is shown to all, that I wasn’t out of reach. God changed my heart and made me new. I was able to let go of things that had hurt me and kept me from living a life consumed with experiencing the love of my savior. I have been a Christian now for four years, and I am still learning and growing and I pray that God will continue to work in my heart for the rest of my life, that I will keep growing and experiencing His grace.
Some song lyrics I shared with them as well, we are giving them a cd at the end of the week with some beautiful Christian songs in Spanish, a lot of them are Hillsong United songs that I think they will really love.
A thousand times I've failed
Still your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
Still I'm caught in your grace
Your will above all else,
my purpose remains
The art of losing myself in bringing you praise
In my heart, in my soul, Lord I give you control
Consume me from the inside out Lord

I love you Lord, I worship you
Hope which was lost, now stands renewed
I give my life to honor this
The love of Christ, the savior king
Let now the lost be welcomed home
By the saved and redeemed those adopted as your own


Your Bro, Mike said...

Sweet! I'm the first to leave a comment on this entry! MARIANNE! Our little family misses you so much and is praying for you daily. Let me just say how proud I am of how you've let yourself become a willing and beautiful vessel for God to use, to shower his Love on the men, women, and children of Peru. Your experiences, testimonies, and stories, have been so touching and inspiring. You're such a good little writer! I always feel like I'm right there with you in your situations and calamities. I am so happy that you are an awesome influence in our church, in our family, and in our community. I thank God for how patient He was in molding and shaping you through your life's ups and downs, all the time preparing you for moments like these last few weeks. Praise God for his goodness, mercy, grace, and faithfulness. We'll pray for your coming days, that God will bless them richly, fruitfully, and keep you safe. We love you!

Sara said...

You know how I try to tell you often how proud of you I am and how truly and incredibly special you are?....well, after reading this that has never ever been more true. I love you, marianne...I can't wait to see you and hear more about your time with these precious people.