Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Strength and dignity are her clothing..." Proverbs 31:25

Well, time is whizzing by…I am amazed at how fast a week flies by!! I found myself translating for two days at a Medical outreach organized by a local Christian radio station and a group of Counselors. A team of nurse’s from the States took blood pressures, weights, blood glucose levels…they needed translators to help educate the people of Cuenca about nutrition, dental hygiene, women’s health. Yours truly is now a professional at explaining breast self-exams in Spanish. (Sorry if that is inappropriate for the general public, but I sure learned a lot of new words!) At the end, they had counselors waiting to talk and pray with each person. Noele helped to entertain the kids while their parents waited. They had puppet shows, face painting, music and candy…Noele is a natural clown!! Needless to say, we were completely exhausted, and took a much needed day off on Friday. It was an especially indulgent day because it was raining, and I read a whole book just for fun!

We had a great Sunday, beginning with the final of a series of messages on the book of Ruth, and ending with a Cristo Vive gathering. As I digest what I learned through the last two sermons, I am perplexed. Ruth was, to be sure, a woman of great conviction, courage, integrity, obedience, and confidence. Sadly, I think we could all admit that women like these seem rather rare these days. I was upset when someone here said: "there are NO women like Ruth these days…she was PERFECT!"
This is not true for several reasons, one, and the most obvious: she was NOT perfect!!! She was no more perfect than I am! Secondly, there are women like her. I know several whose stories simply aren’t written yet! What about all the women out there who are truly striving to become women after God’s heart? In this house, there are three women of various ages and situations, fighting against who the world would like us to become, in order to let the Lord have His way. Because we are close, we know the struggles each other is facing and that we are working at shaping our characters to look something like hers. Ruth truly is a beautiful example.

We do not often hear of a young woman, recently widowed, staying with her mother-in-law, and taking orders from her. Ruth’s fidelity and love for Naomi speaks volumes. Ruth left her comfort zone, home, and family to follow Naomi, and more importantly, Naomi’s God. I have often read Ruth and wondered at her boldness when it came to Boaz, but in truth, her boldness came from her faith and trust in Naomi, whose faith was in the Lord, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe; and when viewed in those terms, it is not so surprising that she confidently made herself known to Boaz, and that he, in turn, did what was right in the sight of the Lord. What would have happened if Boaz had rejected Ruth? Do you think she would have moped around, believing that she was worthless? Would she have begged Boaz to reconsider? Would she have sent her friends to talk to him, trying to manipulate the situation in order to get what she wanted? Many things could have happened, but if Ruth truly was a woman of virtue and steadfastness, she would have praised the Lord, no matter what the outcome. Among Ruth’s godly characteristics are: sacrificial love, hard work, submission to authority and to wise counsel, and confidence in God that all would work itself out, according to His will.

So ladies, here’s to showing the world that Godly women of virtue truly exist! Take on your challenges and let the Lord create in you a beautiful heart! Men, take note, the Lord may use a woman to impart valuable lessons in boldness, obedience, and integrity. Don’t forget your role as a leader in this world, and take care to encourage the women in your lives to stand up for what is true, noble, and just!

He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” And he said, “May you be blessed by the LORD, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. Ruth 3:9-11 ESV

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Joy in the Morning!

“Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him…”
Psalm 37:4-7

We have been here before, have we not?? By this I mean, on our knees before the Lord one minute, and the next minute marveling at what He is already doing to answer our petitions.
Monday (the 13th) evening marked the 2nd of the monthly Cristo Vive corporate prayer and fasting events.
Noele and I ended up being the only two in Cuenca praying together, but we didn’t mind. We sang songs, took turns reading Scriptures and interceding our campers, families, friends, and for Ecuador and the rest of the world where Cristo Vive has or will minister.
As you all know, Flor has been heavy on my heart and mind, and I have been wondering just what my responsibility is in this situation. We specifically asked the Lord to open doors and provide people with information as to how to handle this very complex and delicate situation.
The very next day, while talking with a few friends, they told me they know of several orphanages and foundations in Cuenca, Quito and the surrounding areas which are run by Christians, and have plenty of resources to be able to meet the needs of children such as Flor. On Wednesday, we headed to one of these orphanages and I was able to talk with a woman with a wealth of knowledge about the ins and outs of the system, which is very different than the States. She gave me several contacts which should help in solving some of the issues, not only for Flor, but for all of the children in that orphanage and others in Guayaquil. She also told me that the government is considering beginning a Foster Care Program.
Noele and I are amazed at the Lord’s quick responses. The lesson learned once again is that prayer moves the heart of God, and prayer with fasting moves Him into immediate action! He is protecting us every day, giving us good gifts, and meeting needs that we didn’t even know we had.
We are so excited to be a part of His work, but He is once again reiterating the all-important aspect of spending time seeking His face versus running around like crazy people trying to make things happen on our own.

On a more personal note, I finally feel like I am waking up after the last few months of being on auto-pilot. He is healing my body, mind and Spirit, and I am enjoying this adventure. Gene and Jordana commented recently that I am more like myself…which they attributed to my having Noele’s companionship. DO you think I am a ‘people person’? Now, the challenge is to make sure we give each other enough space! I tell Noele that honesty is best, and that this is good training for the future!

We are not planning on traveling for at least two months, so we are settling into Cuenca, getting to know the people, diving into our work, and making the house feel like a home. We have been scrubbing, moving furniture, and picking out colors for curtains and paint! The freezer is already stocked with leftover chili and pesto, as I have been cooking up a storm...we have been missing casseroles lately (who knew that would ever happen??), so I may have to try my hand at an Ecuadorian version of a Wisconsin staple. Noele thinks we should make a cookbook of all that we make here, since much is improvised due to the different ingredients. I think Pastor Freddy, who lives next door, can smell when we are cooking, because he has eaten 4 meals with us in the last 3 days. The poor guy is lonely and can’t cook, so we take pity on him. Our house is often filled with people, and we like entertaining -- most of the time. Last night, Henry, the guy I am training to be the leader in Cuenca, and his new wife, came for dinner, and we discussed plans to have a Cristo Vive Conference here in Cuenca.
I am about to cut our housemate’s (Lorena) hair, so, Chao for now. Thanks for reading!!

P.S. Please pray for Mercedes...she is flying to New York today, and will be in the States for 5 weeks.

Friday, September 17, 2010

From Noele's Perspective...

Noele wrote this on Monday, September 13, and I just had to share it with you all! Enjoy.

"For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." 2 Corinthians 4: 5,6

A great big "Hola!" and abrazo from Ecuador!!

This morning my dear friend Kristin and I once again loaded our belongings onto a bus to travel to another of our homes here in Ecuador. We left Guayaquil (on the coast) around 9:30 and arrived here in Cuenca (in the mountains-ish) around noon. The bus ride through the mountains was INCREDIBLE. The past couple times we traveled at night, but this morning we got to look out the window at the clouds floating by. As always, every time we travel it's an adventure. We made it to our bus on time and got our suitcases loaded up. We found our seats and Kristin says, "I have to go to the bathroom." Now, in our travels together, I have learned that Kristin needs the bathroom often and when she needs it, she NEEDS it. So she trotted off to find the nearest bathroom which was not so near, and also stopped at the bank in the bus terminal. Meanwhile I am gazing out the window, and both buses on either side of us start pulling out. Odd, I mused. Then I realized that WE were moving. Our bus was pulling out and Kristin was still somewhere in the terminal. A million thoughts raced through my head, what do I do? What if we leave without her? I have no phone, no idea how to get where we're going! She will need another bus, maybe I should get off and wait! So I run to the front of the bus and yell "MI AMIGA ESTA EN EL BANO!" The driver and his assistant fella kinda look at me funny but they pull over and the side-kick runs back to find her. Thankfully, she made it on time and I didn't have to spend five hours on the bus in panic. I think I might need a cell phone...

The Lord is ever-present in our lives here. The reason we had gone to Guayaquil was because the CVI team was having a one-day discipleship activity there for the kids. It was a really great time, as always, to see our kids and spend time with them for Bible reading, arts and crafts, and prayer. The prayers of the team down here are POWERful. It really keeps me accountable to my own prayer life and how much of myself I am putting into my prayers. One of our campers, Flor, who is an orphan and is very near to our hearts, reacted to something (we're not really sure what set her off) but I mean she threw herself on the ground from her wheelchair and was just screaming and trying to hit anyone who came near. Kristin keeps saying, this is NOT the Flor we know. And it's true. There is some sort of spiritual battle going on within her and we don't know if someone has been mistreating her or what. It was a good reminder for us that God has placed these individuals in our lives for a reason, and we are responsible for praying for the young and innocent and asking for protection against the attacks of evil.

Kristin and I both had some health problems while we were in Guayaquil. One of our friends eventually told us that we had to go to this doctor friend of his, who told us we have bronchitis and sinusitis. Or at least, we DID have but now we are equipped with cough medicine (something like Ecuadorian Robitussin) and antibiotics. Whereas Kristin had a bad reaction to the medicine and experienced side effects, I am feeling quite healthy and happy once again.

There is a worship song here that I have been hearing a lot and it has been really powerful for me. The words translated into English say, "You loved me when no one loved me, You saw me before anyone saw me. You gave me a name, I am Your daughter. The daughter of Your eyes. Because You loved me, I love you more than my life." I just love these words.

I have been missing my family and friends up there a lot, I wish I could talk to you guys more! I hope you all are enjoying the beautiful Fall season, someone should take a picture of the leaves when they start changing colors so I can see them, ok?? I can relate to the weather changing to colder temperatures because here in Cuenca, I am wearing monkey slippers and two sweaters and huddling against my laptop to keep warm. The nights feel like Wisconsin nights, but during the day it warms up a lot. If anyone is interested in seeing pictures, Kristin has been posting a lot on her facebook and I can send you a link maybe, but I do not have my camera here so I dont have any pictures on my computer yet.

LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU ALL! Thanks for your prayers, you are in mine as well!!


Monday, September 13, 2010

I believe, Lord...

Last week, we decided we had better go to the doctor. Noele had been coughing for a month, and I had been having headaches and began coughing as well. The doctor said we both have sinusitis and bronchitis, so he prescribed an antibiotic and a cough syrup. We immediately began to feel our sinuses and lungs clearing up, but I was very tired and feverish, and wasn’t sleeping at all! On Thursday, I woke up from a nap, and noticed a strange swelling and tightness in my knee. As I talked with Gene and Jordana that night, I began to have more pain in other joints, so I thought it would be a good idea to find out the side effects of the antibiotic. Sure enough, there was a laundry list of dangerous side effects including the symptoms of tendonitis. Everything I was experiencing was on that list. We went back to the doctor and he changed my meds. Unfortunately, I have been plagued with pain in my whole body, so I feel like I'm 90 years old. On the bright side, however, this caused us to change our plans and stay in Guayaquil for the weekend.

As you grow older, your birthday wishes change dramatically. When you are a kid, you are excited about the presents and everyone treating you extra special. Soon enought you realize that what you really want is for those close to you to be truly happy.
All that to say, I had a wonderful birthday! I have so many loving friends and family that sent me love, which made it bearable to be just one year shy of 30! Best of all was that I was able to do exactly what I wanted to do.

A few close friends and I picked up Flor from the orphanage, and went to the Parque Histórico, which has a variety of plants and animals native to Ecuador. Flor had a great time, though it wouldn’t have mattered to her or I where we were, we just enjoyed being together. We received many hugs and smiles from Flor.

I was singing a song that was stuck in my head…it’s by Jesus Adrian Romero, and, in English it says:
“You saw me when no one saw me, you loved me when no one loved me…you gave me a name, I am your daughter, the daughter of your eyes, because you loved me, you loved me.”
I don’t think Flor knew the song, and as the afternoon went on, I noticed her smiling as I sang, and then, while we were in the bathroom, I was singing and she pointed to herself, then to her eyes, and then from me to her, and from me to her again, along with the lyrics of the song. It was special. We showed our friends and they were amazed that I hadn’t taught her to do that. She doesn't miss anything!

I gave her some new American flag flip-flops and t-shirt, which she loved, and we drove through McDonalds, for some chicken nuggets (we were short on time!). Then came the hard part…it felt so wrong leaving her in that awful place with no one to look after her except the other orphans. She was so upset, she didn’t want to let us go. She was abandoned by her mother when she was an infant, and I felt like I was doing the very same thing to her.
I have been intermittently thankful and tearful since leaving her that day, and I keep asking the Lord what I am supposed to do about this.

Sunday morning the sermon was from Mark 9 when Jesus says, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” To which the only appropriate response seems to be: “I believe Lord, help my unbelief.”


We have recently instituted a new corporate prayer meeting. The second Monday of every month, we have committed to gather, fast the evening meal and pray together. If you would like to be included, please send me an email address or write to This month, Gene asked Noele and I to write the prayer points. The following is a testimony from our activity last Saturday, the 4th of September, and the theme for the prayer meeting this month.

*****We would like to remind everyone to continuously be praying for our campers. We have seen proof of the spiritual battles they encounter; we have seen how they weep when we pray for them in the camps. They are susceptible to so many different types of evil forces and most are not able to battle with Satan by themselves. This is our responsibility. The Lord has put them in our lives and given us glimpses into their struggles. They need to be covered with our prayers for protection, for healing, for anointing, and for strength. We all know that prayer moves the heart of Our Father. We do not need to be present with them for our prayers to be efficient.
We (Noele and Kristin) were reminded of this necessity on Saturday during our Discipleship day in Guayaquil. When I (Kristin) first met Flor, I was struck instantly with an impression that we needed to pray and fast on her behalf, for her healing, spiritual freedom, peace and salvation. I believe the Lord answered those prayers and allowed us to witness the results of these prayers. If you ask Flor where Jesus is, she immediately points to the sky and then to her heart. No one, as far as I know, has taught her that, save for the lessons she has learned at camp and through the visits to the orphanage.

Saturday, while talking about giving thanks to God for all of our needs (including family), Flor became uncontrollably angry and self-destructive, screaming, lashing out, and crying. For about an hour, we interceded on her behalf, fighting both physically and spiritually. It was exhausting, and, to tell you the truth, I wasn’t prepared. I had become complacent and content with what God had done, forgetting for a time, that the battle is not over!! While praying, I had a thought that maybe she had been sexually abused. When we had ceased praying for a few minutes, all three of the other women who were praying for her asked me about her caregivers and said that they think she has been abused sexually. We prayed for her to be able to forgive anyone who has hurt her, to forgive her family for abandoning her, and to begin to heal emotionally.

During camps in Ecuador, the leadership takes time to pray for each camper and counselor. Inevitably, the Spirit of God moves, ministering to the pain in their hearts. I cannot describe the looks on their faces, when, with tears streaming down their cheeks, they cry out to the Lord to help them to release bitterness and to live with joy despite being trapped inside a body that won’t allow them to express their desires, and fulfill their dreams. One camper, Erwin, who is about 30 years old, has shared with me that he wants to be a pastor. The trouble is, unless you spend time with him, you can barely understand what he says, because he has severe Cerebral Palsy. He has a beautiful smile and expressive eyes which seem to plead with me to understand, and to help somehow!! I know that in heaven, a strong, handsome, capable, young Ecuadorian man is going to come up to me and with confidence and clarity and recite messages upon messages with which he could have encouraged the masses. However, it is my desire, and I believe God’s as well, that he live this life with purpose, with joy, knowing that he too, is here for a reason, whether or not he can speak clearly.

Let’s take time to pray for our campers. (2 Corinthians 4:1-8) Please pray for the freedom of Christ to be revealed in their lives. (Galatians 5:1)
We were also recently encouraged and reminded that the Lord has sent us out with a purpose, and that He has given us His blessing as well a promise that He will provide for us. Our work is not in vain and we are learning to rely on Him for helping us to further His kingdom and share His love. (Mark 6:7-13, Acts 13:2,3) *********

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My 29th September...

September, for me, holds a certain sense of nostalgia. As a child it meant back to school (which I loved!) with brand-new pencils and tennis shoes, the excitement of birthday celebrations, and the coolness and color of autumn. Here in Ecuador, though they do have two “seasons”, it is not as distinct as in Wisconsin.
"Welcome September, with all of your newness and promise, and may you live up to your potential!"

Enough about the future -- I am sure all of you have nothing better to do than to anxiously await word from me about what has been happening…

After the camp, my team and I traveled on a bus (I LOVE BUSES!! :)) to Quito, where we spent almost two weeks ministering, touring, and tasting. We spent some time at Campamento Esperanza (Camp Hope), a home for children with disabilities who have been abandoned. We spent one morning in a prison for women from all over the world, where a group of missionaries has a weekly Bible study. “Opción de Vida” (Option for Life) is an outreach to at-risk kids and those that live on the street, at which we helped by playing with the kids raking leaves and participating in the lesson time. My favorite (of course!), was the day we visited an orphanage. This orphanage is much nicer than the one in Guayaquil because it is funded by the government, yet, no matter how many physical needs this place can meet for the children, it is still painfully obvious that they lack the love and attention of parents. It breaks my heart that places like this even need to exist, but I hope that by washing windows, changing messy diapers, and lulling little ones to sleep, we were able to share the love of Christ.
We made dinner for our Cristo Vive Quito team and had a nice time reuniting with them and making plans for the future. It is encouraging to see this team that is less than a year old, bonding strongly and continuing to minister together.
Let’s not forget, that the beautiful city of Quito has many sights for foreigners to behold, of which we took advantage. We visited museums, statues, the Middle of the world (where you can balance an egg on a nail), looked out over the city via the top of a mountain, ate cuy (guinea pig) at the same restaurant as the travel channel’s Andrew Zimmern ( ), danced to live Ecuadorian music at La Ronda, and rested our tired bodies in the thermal baths of Papallacta. All together, thanks to our tour guide, friend, and chauffer, Gustavo, our time in Quito was both challenging and restful. We were (and are) sad to say good-bye to Christine and Brad (we miss you guys!!).

Noele and I left Quito, Friday night, the 27th, and arrived ten hours later, on Saturday morning. It was nice to be back in Cuenca, though only for a few short days. Incendio, “my” dog has grown up so much! He’s still as spunky as ever, and loyal…following us to the bus, where he knows he will have to turn around and go home. We made it in time for a surprise birthday party for Juan Diego and to say good-bye to Philipp who would be going back to Switzerland (I know, our social calendar is very demanding!!). We were able to see most of the CVI team Sunday at church, just enough to touch base and see how they were doing. Monday, Noele celebrated her 20th birthday, and on Wednesday, we awoke at 3:30 am to make the trip to Guayaquil. We had been planning on leaving Friday, but there was a team of Californians who were returning to the states, and were taking a much safer, much faster tourist bus, and they invited us to ride along. We were extremely glad to accept since it would cost us nothing, and we had just read a news story about a bus that careened off of a mountain cliff []. I don’t mean to alarm any of you, but it was a reminder that God’s angels are protecting us every time we travel, and that your prayers are working!!

So, here we are in the heat of Guayaquil once again. Tomorrow we will visit the orphanage and see Flor-cita! In the meantime, Noele and I are working out a routine and a plan of attack for the tasks at hand. We have already slipped into a pattern of Kristin cooks and Noele washes the dishes, so hopefully, our work will turn out to be naturally patterned out as well. A friend jokingly asked us today if we have had our first “marital” argument. Funnily, we have been getting along well, though we both agree that soon we may need a breather, as 24-7 is a bit much for the most happily married couple or the most amiable of friends! Also, there are about ten people here in Guayaquil (including myself --- EEK!) who have birthdays in these next few weeks, not to mention about twenty more in the states…so, if you are one of them and I am not there to say it in person…HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

As I contemplate murdering the dog that is incessantly barking below the window, I leave you with these words of Truth:

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden…In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14,16