Monday, November 30, 2015

ENGAGED!!!

When I was preparing to come to Bolivia, many people asked me about marriage. Don’t you want to get married first? Would you ever get married to a Bolivian? Aren’t you afraid you’ll never get married? I usually responded with a joke of some kind. My sister often joked about how there are a lot of “fish in the sea”, but because Bolivia is a land-locked country, there’s not a lot of sea. I have always wanted to get married someday, but I also knew that God was clearly leading to Bolivia. I didn’t know what that meant for my marital status, but I knew that God was good, and in His time and His will, he would provide. Or not. And that was okay.

When I arrived in July of last year to serve at the orphanage and school, I also had the opportunity to be involved in a neighborhood Bible club (Happy Hour) that meets every Saturday. The Happy Hour is run by members of my church in Bolivia, and the kids from the orphanage have gone every Saturday for the last 4 years. As I began to get more involved, I began to get to know better the other people that helped every week. From the beginning, one of the guys, Franco, caught my attention in the way he interacted with the kids with love, and humbly served in whatever ways he could find. His love for the Lord and desire to serve caught my attention, but I never thought he would be interested in me. Through mutual friends we began to spend time together at other church events. We became friends slowly, and then he left for two months to visit family in another part of Bolivia.

During that time I remember praying for wisdom and guidance in our friendship, but still thought that anything other than friendship was unrealistic. When he returned in February, it seemed like God answered my prayer in the opposite way of what I had prayed. Instead of maintaining a distant friendship, it seemed like the Lord constantly put us in ministry situations where we worked closely together. I began to see more and more of His fear of the Lord, and commitment to following Him. A missionary family that knows us both well began to ask me what I thought of Franco, and others asked him as well.

The “dating culture” in Bolivia is much different than in the U.S, so I tried to be very careful to observe and not initiate anything. From February to August we spent lots of time together in group settings and in ministry, and ocassionally time with just the two of us going from one place to another. When I came back from the United States, Franco was waiting at the airport, but didn’t say anything about why he was there. I didn’t want to be the one to initiate, so I (impatiently) waited. About two weeks after I arrived in Bolivia again, I prayed again, asking the Lord for a clear answer about whether or not God was leading towards a relationship with Franco. I prayed that it would be that week, and that God would convict him clearly of the need to have a conversation.

God quickly answered my prayer, and Franco invited me to go to lunch the next day. After lunch was over, he told me he had been praying about our friendship for the last year, and that he felt like the Lord was leading him to tell me. In the church here, “praying” means that you are praying about the idea of marriage, to see if that is where God is leading. It is similar to courting or very traditional dating. He asked me if I would consider praying also about how God might lead, and I told him that I would be happy to continue praying, since I already had been as well. He was sursprised, and said he had no idea how I had been feeling. Because I was not sure exactly how “praying” works, I asked. “So we pray, and then what happens?”

His answer was surprising and not at the same time. “I wouldn’t be asking you to consider it if I didn’t know that I want to marry you.” I don’t rememeber what my response to that was, but at that point I felt the kind of peace that can only come from the Lord. I told him that I would pray and talk with my mission organization, parents, church, and a few other people. At that point, I felt like I knew my answer, but I wanted to know what the “authorities” in my life had to say. I talked with my parents who were not as surprised as I thought, and then the mission organization, my home church, and my church in Bolivia. To my surprise, everyone I talked to was surprised, but completely supportive, encouraging, and affirming of God’s leading. After much prayer, and counsel, I am confident in the Lord’s leading, and have told Franco yes!!!!

 Our desire is to continue to serve in whatever way the Lord allows. He is currently serving in the local church and Bible club, and our prayer is to be able to assist with a church plant in the place that Happy Hour currently takes place. My work with the orphanage will stay the same, but the children will gain a new Tio (uncle)….and he will gain 27 neices and nephews ! I will keep you all posted as decisions are made, but I wanted you all to hear it from me! I am so thankful for the ways the Lord is working in Bolivia, in the orphanage, and in the ministry of the Bolivian local church. I am so thankful for you, and for the ways you generously and sacrificially give and spend time in prayer for not only the Lord’s work, but also me personally. Our God is faithful, and I am overwhelmed by that faithfulness in you all!

Group picture outside of the church with kids from Casa de Amor!
Thank you so much Sarah and Hannah for bringing SO MANY kids! :)

So much personality in this picture! 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Renovations!

As many of you know, the last few months have been very busy for Casa de Amor. We have moved all of the children into two homes closer to each other, and it has been a time of transition for everyone. The kids and tias are adjusting very well, but there have been many logisitical repairs and changes that needed to be made.
Thank you so much to all of you that have prayed during this time of transition, and also to those of you have given SO generously. I am especially thankful for Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church, and The Village Church Denton for your consistency in prayer, encouragement, and generosity.
We have been able to paint a few rooms in the volunteer home, replace the cement floor in the baby room, and make other general repairs to the homes. Thank you again for your love for the children at Casa de Amor! Here are a few pictures:

Sorting hundreds of shoes after the move!

Painting the volunteer house!

Friends from church came to help!

A newly planted garden!

Goodbye cement floor!