Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Reflections after our return

I sometimes think that we are supposed to know all the answers and comprehend the fullness of events as they happen, but it doesn't work that way for me. After several weeks with the help of some very timely bible passages and a word from God I am beginning to have some understanding of what being part of this team was all about for me.

Actually it wasn't about me at all and I'm not sure how much was about the team or about the work we did with the children in Arequipa, Peru. A reading in Hebrews (Chapter 10 & 11) really helped to provide some clarity. The 10th chapter speaks about sacrifice and Christ's perfect sacrifice in giving his life for us. The 11th chapter is Paul's discourse on faith. I never had seen any relationship between the two concepts of 'sacrifice' and 'faith' until this reading. Maybe the reason for that was I had never explored the idea of sacrificial acts in my life.

In connection with our trip to Peru, we did sacrifice some of our money and our time to make the trip. We definitely sacrificed a little of our creature comforts to the inconvenience of being taken completely out of our comfort zone. Finally, we sacrificed our physical well being as most of us experienced the discomfort of illness. Admittedly these sacrifices pale in comparison to what long-term missionaries experience on a routine basis and can not even compare to the suffering of Christ on the cross. What I did come to understand through this experience, however, was that anytime we make sacrifices of any kind for the sake of Christ, we are building our faith and the faith of those around us.

I know that my faith was increased through working with the team and the children in Arequipa.  I was touched repeatedly by the simple acts of giving and receiving hugs, playing children's games, watching the way in which the children inter-related with each other and the adults in their lives, trying to communicate without a common language, sharing meals together, praying together, listening to the voices and sounds around me and experiencing the sights and sounds of the city and surrounding country side. The miracles were sometimes small but overall to have accomplished the work we had been given, as we overcame the daily challenges and obstacles, was a major miracle and faith builder.

Another aspect of our sacrifice is that we become one with Christians all over the world, both living and past who have sacrificed for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When I realized this fact, my respect and appreciation for all who seek to follow Christ was increased enormously. Also a real exercise in humility.

Although we do not have to travel great distances or go to extremes to make sacrifices in our lives, for me this trip has highlighted the role that sacrifice for others has made in my own spiritual journey.  I now know that when I sacrifice my agenda for that of Jesus Christ I am taken to higher ground in my faith.

 1 Hear my cry, O God;
   listen to my prayer.
 2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
   I call as my heart grows faint;
   lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For you have been my refuge,
   a strong tower against the foe.   Psalm 61:1-3

Pat Mc

Friday, July 29, 2011

Got a bug!

Hello Everyone,

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days. Several of us, including me, caught a bug that includes fever and GI issues. I was down for the count yesterday. I slept most of the day yesterday and today. Can't wait to get better. Talk to you in later.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A good night's sleep

What a regenerative power there is in a good night's sleep. Unfortunately that doesn't allways happen for me. Often I wake up early in the morning with thoughts of work chasing through my head and then spend 2 or 3 hours tossing about trying to solve tomorrow's problems. When I finally get back to sleep the alarm goes off and its time to face the real problems of the day.

Here in Arequipa, Peru I have not had those problems. We wake up with morning prayer, a devotion, a time of worship and the love of God and our team-mates wrapped around us. The day is filled with activity, sights and sounds (lots of sounds, this is a very noisy city), laughter, some tears, but most of all the lyrical language of spanish all around and the beutiful children and adults of the Casa Hogares orphanage. I hate to use the word "orphanage" as we all know there are no orphans of God.

We work hard and play hard (yesterday I played to hard and pulled my hamstring). We taste food with aromas and flavors different than we are accustomed to, we pray (after the team prayed over me last night my hamstrings appears to be completely healed this morning) and we have endless conversations of coffee and card games. The day is full.

WE end with evening prayer and devotionals and discuss our moments closest to God (there are many). This daily routine seems to be the perfect Rx for a sound and peaceful sleep in which our energies are renewed and we awake with a new appreciation of life in every sense of the word. We are grateful and humbled by the infinite extent of God's love and grace and mercy. Here in Peru we are especially in touch with the fact that God is present everywhere and His love and grace and mercy is available to all people of all colors in all parts of the earth.

Pat Mc

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What a gift!

I can not begin to let you all know how grateful I am for this opportunity to be hear in Arequipa. I am enjoying my time here with the kids. I am learning a lot about myself and aprreciate what I have at home so much more now. The workers at our hostel and at the orphanages have been so welcoming. God is here among us here and He is with the kids! I am looking forward to the rest of the week.


The Park

Hi Everyone!

We spent the day at a beautiful park with both groups of children. We played duck duck goose, jump rope,frisbee, and soccer. I failed miserably at duck duck goose. The weather was gorgeous. The mountains were beautiful. Must run. Will blog later.

I'm alive

Wow....I came all the way to Peru to get a free "colonoscopy."  Not a fun night last night.  However, God has restored my health this morning.  Praise God.  We are headed to the park this morning to play with the kiddos.  Our plans have changed to day and minute to minute.  We were reminded in our daily devotional this morning that we need to focus on the presence of God in all things rather than focusing on our plans that have fallen apart.  We have no control over what will happen....only God does.


Monday, July 25, 2011

What a great day

Whew, what an amazing day our team has had.  As we move forward, God is revealing more to each of us about why we are here.  For me, I have been reminded of the parable of the sower that Fr. Mark preached on a few Sundays ago... 

From Mark 4 (NIV) 3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”

The children we are seeing already have a pretty good understanding of Christ's love; so they are "good soil".  I see a big part of our mission as a responsibility to make certain those seeds that have been planted by those before us receive water and fertilizer.  I can't wait to see what else God has in store for us.

John Martin