Friday, May 21, 2010

My New House

The neighbors living in the house right beside ours started moving out last week. Christie and I talked about it and thought it would be really cool if I could live there for the rest of my time here. It would give me a chance to be more “on my own.”

Wednesday afternoon we got the go-ahead on moving in. Within minutes the girls and I had all my stuff moved over here. With help from Saul and Oscar, who moved my dresser for me. Christie took me shopping for a few items I knew I’d need. We searched a few stores for an outdoor stove. Finally found one. I paid about $2 for it. That was pretty awesome!

We went by our friend’s store, where we love to go for blankets and rugs. I bought two of the cutest rugs. She’s so sweet! She gave me a house-warming gift….two little doily-type things that are crocheted with flowers. They’re so pretty! I don’t have anywhere to put them right now, maybe I can find a place for them.

My first night here, I thought I broke the shower. The second night, I broke one of the hinges on the bathroom door. Hmm….what should I break next?

Our friend Patricia is supposed to be moving in with me sometime next week. That will be fun! Maybe she can teach me how to use this outdoor stove. I’m sure it’s not hard. I got over my fear of matches last night, as I lit about 12 of them trying to get my mosquito things to stay lit.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Big steps & New things

Last week was a big week for me. Sunday evening I decided I wanted to go to the church that some of our friends go to. I went without Ken, Christie or the girls. That was a huge step for me. After I got home that night, I couldn’t even believe I had done it, gone by myself. I had a great time! The worship service was awesome. I understood some of the message but not all of it. I’m so glad I was willing to step out and go on my own.

On Wednesday, I walked to the grocery store by myself. Before going, I told Saúl, in Spanish, where I was going. After getting back and making lunch, I asked him, again in Spanish, if he wanted pizza for lunch. I know those were only two sentences but that was a lot more than I had spoken any other day. He was bragging on me to Christie. A compliment from Saúl is a big deal to me, I don’t get those often.

On my way home from the grocery store that day, I pretty much got chased down by Julio. He’s completely harmless. He’s just a friendly man who hangs out on the main road in town all day, talking to whoever passes by. He greeted me with a big, wet kiss on each cheek. He walked with me for about two blocks, talking to me the whole time.

Friday was an awesome day! Ken and Christie dropped me off at the pastora’s house around 9:30 that morning. First, she had me come out on the back porch with her, where she was cooking meat and marmalade. It was raining most of the day. It was so nice sitting out on the porch beside the fire while it was raining.

We had coffee and bread for breakfast, a typical Paraguayan breakfast. She told me to pour my coffee first. As I began to pour it I was afraid I was pouring the wrong thing and would end up with a cup full of cream. But, no, it was the right thing. The coffee was mostly cream, completely white, only a little coffee flavor to it. Very different but tasty.

Her daughter-in-law, Susan, came over and they showed me how to make bread. In the summer, the pastora makes fruit salad while the pastor goes out and sells it. In the colder months, they make and sell bread. She wanted to teach her daughter-in-law to make it so that her and her husband would have something they could work at together to make money. I think that’s sweet!

It’s definitely true that you can learn just by watching. I had so much fun mixing all the ingredients together on the table, kneading the dough, forming it into little loaves. I was there for over 8 hours that day and enjoyed every second of it.

Saturday, several of our friends came over to hang out. It was a lot of fun….a little music, some frisbee in the street, kids playing Uno.

Another HUGE step, which was not taken so willingly, as I was scared half to death of it….One of our guy friends asked if he could take me for a ride and for ice cream. After much discussion and freaking out, I said yes. We went to the ice cream shop first, then rode way out to I don’t know where. Then we hiked through the woods, to a place where we could see all of Carapeguá from up above. We ate our ice cream there. It was way too cold for ice cream though. So most of it is in our freezer now. If only they had coffee shops here. Now that’s the way to win my heart, through coffee.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Heart of a Child

An amazing friend once told me that their wish for me was that I would develop the heart of a child. What does that mean? What does a child’s heart look like? It looks like a heart full of dreams, trust, and forgiveness.

Have you ever said no to a child, only to have them respond with, “You’re not my friend anymore.” Or, “I don’t love you anymore.” Or even, “I hate you.” And an hour later, that same child is curled up in your lap, resting in the arms of the one who said, “No, that’s not what’s best for you.”

That’s how most of us were as children. Our hearts had not been hurt yet, our feelings and our egos maybe, but we didn’t yet let the words and actions of others get all the way to our hearts. We were quick to forgive, quick to trust, and quick to obey.

As we got older, we started building walls that would affect how we trusted others. We started holding onto the past and stopped forgiving so quickly. We began to think that we know what’s best for us and we stopped obeying our authorities.

Children don’t fully understand the concept of time. All they know is “right now.” As adults, we can’t forget the past. We can’t throw certain memories out of our minds. But we can make a choice to not bring up past hurts. When they do come back up, we can choose to respond with forgiveness and grace.

I’m not going to say it’s easy to not worry about the future. But we must have a child-like trust in our Heavenly Father. He’s the one who planned everything out before we were even born. He loves us more than we can ever know or imagine. He has our best interest at heart. We read in Scripture, “Consider how we, being evil, give good gifts to our children. How much more will the Heavenly Father give to those who trust in Him?”

Children are appreciative for the gifts we give. I have seen such excitement over the smallest, most meaningless things, stickers, candy, paper airplanes. Things that have no eternal value. Where is our excitement for the gifts of God?

I remember one Christmas when April opened what was, to her, the greatest gift in the world, her very first curling iron. She squealed with delight, as tears, real tears of joy, rolled down her face. We will never let her forget the excitement she had over that gift. We joke, saying it was what started her passion for hair and caused her to go to beauty school years later.

When was the last time you had that kind of response to a gift from God? Do we even recognize God’s gifts anymore? Did you wake up this morning? Did you have clothes to wear and food to eat? Do you have loved ones to hug and talk to? Start thanking God for those things, the simple, everyday gifts. You will be amazed at the difference it will make in your heart.

Children dream big dreams. They want a big life. They want to make a difference. They want to be superheroes, princesses, and astronauts. Somewhere along the road to adulthood, we laid those dreams aside. We didn’t trade them for more attainable but equally big dreams. We traded them for doubt, insecurity, and disbelief that we could ever be satisfied and have the life we dreamed of. God wants to renew those child-like hopes and dreams.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to get bit by a spider and then save the world. It does mean I can trust God to use me and change a life through me. It’s never by our own power or ability that we can do anything, but by the power and strength of God.

Those are only a few of my thoughts on the heart of a child. I pray that God will continue to show me areas where I need to surrender to Him, trust Him more, return to Him fully.

I AM by Jill Phillips

Oh gently lay your head
Upon my chest
And I will comfort you like a Mother while you rest.
The tide can change so fast
But I will stay
The same through Past, the same in Future,
Same Today.

Oh weary, tired and worn
Let out your sighs
And drop that heavy load you hold
Cuz mine is light.
I know you through and through
There’s no need to hide.
I want to show you love that is deep and high and wide.

For I am constant.
I am near.
I am peace that shatters all your fears.
I am holy.
I am wise.
I’m the only One, who knows your heart’s desires.

Oh gently lay your head upon My chest
And I will comfort you like a Mother
While you rest.