Sunday, January 13, 2013
Ever since I met the Jesus Christ, I have loved going to church, to get in on the corporate worship and the teaching, as well as building relationships with the other members. I've found Him in different denominations and NON-denominations. I don't believe in "church-hopping." And while I don't mind visiting a very large church, I prefer being part of a smaller one for the sake of being KNOWN - having accountability for the safe-guard of my soul.
In 1986 my first husband and I went before the Presbytery where we received some prophetic words. One was about visitation in the House of the Lord, and at first I just thought of visiting members of my present church. But His House is SO much bigger! I started going to evening services at other churches just to visit, while maintaining my morning attendance at my regular church. When I began to study Spanish, I included bi-lingual or hispanic churches (my city has a large latino population).
When we're faithful in the small things - responding to the Lord's Word by making those steps in my own community - He gives us bigger things. Hence my start with visiting churches in OTHER countries. It started with one church in Iquitos,Peru, where my church had supported a mission. Then it was a few churches. Then it was some churches in Lima as well as Iquitos. Then it was some jungle churches as well as the others, and a church in Chiclayo. Then it was Cuzco and surrounding villages. Then more churches in Lima and Iquitos and the jungle churches and Chiclayo. Then one Ipiales, COLOMBIA, through someone I knew from Iquitos. That same person got me into churches in Quito and Tulcan in ECUADOR. Another contact got me into churches in Puerto Maldonado and Iberia. Another brought me to Tuman, Santa Ana, Casa Blanca, Chepen, Ucupe, and Tucume. And I've been to numerous churches throughout Lima's districts.
And it's been LOVELY to be in His dwelling place, and I've always felt at home, whatever the size of the church, its construction and location. I love my present "home" church, a bilingual Assembly of God. But my God has a big BIG House.
Saturday, January 12, 2013
My sister in Christ, dear friend, and "spiritually adopted" sister Vicky Campos would always use this phrase in response to the usual greeting of "How are you?" I met her first in 2006, the first time I went to Chiclayo with her flesh-n-blood sister Sabina and brother-in-law Pastor Jorge Samelvino. That first time I was put up in a hotel, but her father said, "She must be so lonely, all by herself - the next time she comes, she has to stay HERE." "Papito Maximo" adopted ME as HIS "spiritual daughter" the following summer when I returned to Chiclayo. I have become very close to Vicky and Sabina since then. And when asked how I am, I try to remember Vicky's declaration.
This is a little video of my "home away from home" in Chiclayo:
I can't begin to count the ways I am blessed. But since this is my Spark blog, I'll mention some things having to do with THAT. Spark itself is such a blessing, and it's a blessing to be able to have my own PC and internet at home. The tracking has been a great help. The articles have helped me, AND my sparkbuddy daughter Raptormelon/Glitterfairy, to make wiser selections in the grocery store and meal planning.
I'm a Teacher Assistant, so I don't get super grand wages. BUT, after tithing (yes, 10% BEFORE taxes) I am able to meet my financial obligations and sometimes even help Levi, and even do an occasional special (HEALTHY) treat.That's the FINACIAL prosperity. I am prospering SPIRITUALLY - drawing closer to my Lord, more in love with Him. My SOUL is prospering, as I just enjoy life in general, even with all its trials and tribulations- see yesterday's blog! - (of course, Jesus Christ has everything to do with THAT, too!)
En Victoria/In Victory:
I have managed to keep my sodium within limits for six out of seven days, thanks to Spark's nutrition tracker so I can plan my meals. When I stepped on the scale this morning, it was TWO-OH-FOUR. It is always hardest to break through those 5-pound marks: It seemed I'd never get below 220...215....210....and then 205! I hope to hit 200 by the end of the month! Also, I tried on my "skinny jeans" - some size 16's that I've held onto from when I'd managed to get as low as 180 before injuring myself and the slow creep back up. With pulling in my tummy I was actually able to FASTEN them. NOT zip - YET. But I FASTENED them! That's a PHYSICAL victory.
A victory of soul and spirit - hard to distinguish - is the peace about Levi's situation.And I called him the following day to see what was going on. He sounded hopeful that his case was being considered - he is caring for his ailing, elderly parents, he has his own health issues, and he has had periods of unemployment. "I don't know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future."
Vicky and I, on our way to the Telesferico in Quito, Ecuador, 2011
Friday, January 11, 2013
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV) "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds" (James 1:2)
In 2006 I went with my pastor friends Jorge and Sabina and 3 young men from their church in Lima and a youth pastor from Iquitos to visit some village churches along a little river. In Bretaña, there were 3 churches, so our group split up to minister in each one. I went with Sabina and Michael, the youth pastor, to one, and we each had something to share, one building on the other. From this experience, Sabina likes to call to mind something I said, based on these passages - that our response should be, "Gloria a Dios, estoy en pruebas!" - Glory to God, I'm in the midst of triasl! It's something that brings me a little smile now and then in the midst of my own. Or those that I share with loved ones.
At present, Levi is facing a major battle. I think it was precipitated by the mother of his younger daughter finding out that he is engaged to a gringa, and that she must think that he has access to a lot of money. HA! So she had this complaint lodged against him, akin to a summons, which was delayed in reaching him, because it wasn't delivered directly into his hands. NOT HIS FAULT that he knew nothing about it until the time had elapsed for him to show up - thus causing him to be penalized. Add to that she's making all kinds of false accusations against him for which she wants money for "psychological damages", as well as an unreasonable portion of his meager pay ( and at present he is unemployed) supposedly to support her daughter but actually to live high off the hog. Perhaps she figures I can and will do anything to rescue him, including paying off her demands. But as I told Levi yesterday when I called him and he was telling me all these things, my hands are tied. And so, if the judge can't see through the woman's avaricious lies, Levi may have to go to jail for some 3 years. And of course, this may very well affect the possibility of his ever getting ANY kind of visa to the US.
So...Naturally I've been praying. And throughout this situation, I see God's goodness.
Levi was experiencing a horrid headache when I called yesterday, and at his request I prayed for him. I think the stress is elevating his blood pressure. He may end up having a massive stroke, even a heart attack. He may die. But if he does - he goes to heaven. So - not a bad ending.
His elderly parents are frail - this is stressing them too. But for them, also, heaven awaits.
If Levi survives all this and goes to jail - Joseph son of Jacob was also wrongly accused. In fact, God could have rescued Joseph from the cistern when his jealous brothers threw him in - his brother Reuben had that in mind. But God let him be sold into slavery. God could have rescued Joseph from prison - Potiphar's wife's false accusations landed him there (which in itself is God's grace, because by rights the man could have had Joseph put to death.) But no - there he was. And we are blessed to have the account of the happy ending that came to him, because God was in control.
And I believe this is true for Levi. He has the gift of evangelism. Who knows but that the Lord wants to use him to reach the lost. Even if not, there is always something we can learn from any experience, and something God can utilize in our testimony. Because we are His, we can count on ALL things working to our good (Romans 8:28).
Levi has told me on a couple of occasions, "I can learn a lot from you" - from my experience as a missionary, from my years of being with the Lord. But I believe I have something else to show him which he has not experienced - the faithful love of a committed spouse, who won't cut and run just because things aren't going the way I want them to. I'm not going to say, "Oh, well, this is too much, I didn't bargain for THIS." By the grace of God I stayed with my first husband till he went to his heavenly Home. I am also committed to Levi. For better or worse.
So...I'll probably have hip surgery this summer. If in God's mercy Levi escapes the snare of this fowler, we'll try to bring him up here this year. If things go another way, I hope to return to Peru next year, to minister in churches I've visited before, perhaps some new ones - but also to visit HIM and the family in Pucallpa, and to encourage him. And who knows, if he's got his documents, and I go prepared with an apostille as well as a hot-off-the-press birth certificate and such for MY part, signed, sealed, stamped, ribboned, glittered by the embassy and Peruvian bureaucrats, and if they allow marriages in jail, we can do that too. God knows. And I can trust Him. Because God is good.
I think this is going to be my theme song for a while.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
I'd made an appointment with the orthopod yesterday, a follow up visit from when I had the injection in my hip last month. The effect has pretty much worn off, and I'm taking the meloxicam again - trying for half a pill a day, or every other day - as little as possible. But anyway, we're looking at hip surgery come summer vacation. That's okay by me. I've had numerous surgeries. No worries!
God makes appointments too. But we don't know about them all the time - there's no reminder call from His office. We just need to be aware when the time comes to act, to step up to the moment.
A couple of years ago I was proctoring a test for a class where I didn't know any of the kids. When most had finished and were just finding something quiet to occupy their time until they could be "sprung" from the testing room, I noticed one young man was reading. This is thrilling, in a city school where many of the students are way below grade level. I, meanwhile, was reviewing one of my hand-written journals of one of my trips to Peru. The youth asked about it, and I offered it to him to peruse - but the handwriting was a little beyond him. (I gotta write my memoirs and publish them!) But we had a nice quiet chat, and ever since then, when we'd see each other in the halls, we'd greet each other. He was even at the pajama-movie night at my granddaughter's school, for his little brother.
So earlier this semester, a couple weeks into the semester, doesn't he come in with his English class to the computer lab. He chooses a computer next to me, and we chat a bit. We give each other Facebook info and friend each other. Not many conversations - he'll say "sup" and little chit chat phrases. But that's okay. Then - his class stops coming to the computer lab. But we maintained FB contact.
Now, since Sunday I had held off from going to Facebook, seeking to draw closer to the Lord. I was going to do this for 3 weeks, kind of fasting from FB. Well, yesterday he stopped by the lab during his lunch, and just started to talk about how he was feeling - like he was just ready to give up, he didn't care any more, his home life sucked (stepfather issues)...I spoke encouragingly to him, trying to impress on him that he has a purpose. I later concluded, "Okay, Lord. I'll just skip the games on FB and use it as a ministry tool." I posted a song on his wall - www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLlBkVbyY5k and when I get home will post some other words of encouragement.
That was one of God's "follow-up" appointments.
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
And not for burgers or chocolate or pizza.
Nor for lentil loaf, baked fish, or pink grapefruit.
I am hungry for more of the Lord. More of Jesus. More of God's presence in my life. More of the filling of the Holy Spirit. Only God can really satisfy.
Humankind is naturally spiritual - and if we don't fill that with with the spirit of the living God who made us, we're going to try to fill that emptiness with all manner of other things. Including food. But we can eat and eat and never really be satisfied, because the spirit knows something is missing.
The great thing about recognizing this, is that at the same time He fills, you hunger for more of Him - but it's GOOD. It leads to LIFE, ABUNDANT life. And you don't have to feel guilty about "eating too much" spiritual food!
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."(Matt. 5:6) www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2QRPnzi8hs
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