“Whatever you do…

…work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Col. 3:23img_9087

Whatever I do? As in, everything?  Even in the way I clean the house? Or feed the cat?  Or make dinner? Or write this blog? In those things too? Surely God can’t be concerned with the minute details of how we do things, can He?

We know the answer to this; it’s in the verse. Whatever you do.

I’ve been struggling with this lately.

We’re in the middle of our last internship as house parents, and it’s been hard. It’s a service-based internship, and the idea of serving well seems as foreign to these six as their foreigner house parents are to them. It’s all about getting by, doing just enough. It seems that the words “thank you” are words this group just isn’t familiar with. There have been so many issues that we’re unsure how to bring them all up in a positive way without nagging them all the time.

Maybe you’re thinking that I’m being too harsh. They’re young, after all. This is the 21st century; perhaps I should just love them into serving well.

But this post isn’t about them. It’s about me.

About how I use their lack of perceived gratefulness/service as an excuse not to serve well myself. “Fine, if no one cares that I put time into dinner, I’ll just make Ramen Noodles (er…the Ecuadorian equivalent) next time.” And maybe they’d love it, but that’s not the point. The point is my attitude- what’s behind how I make dinner. I could give them bread and water, and if I do it joyfully and wholeheartedly, it would be enough.

Please pray. Pray that in the face of apathy, we would serve wholeheartedly. And pray for these interns. It is our hearts’ desire to see them really be transformed more into the likeness of our Savior during their time here. Please pray for wisdom for us as we guide them, to know when to speak and when to remain silent and live by example. Pray that they would not return to their homes in six weeks the same. There is still time.

-Erica

 

 

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

For when leadership demands humility…

I wrote the following on April 15th of 2014. At the time it was still too raw, and I too ashamed to admit publicly how desperately I still need God’s grace. Now that it’s been two and a half years, I suppose it’s time. Time to be reminded that “but by the grace of God we are what we are.” (1 Cor. 15:10)

“For when leadership demands humility:

Active humility, that is. The kind that results in action. The kind that sharply accosts pride. The kind that leaves you emotionally exhausted and unsure of why you entered into a leadership position anyway. The kind that requires a public denial of self. That kind.

And that’s where I am. In the wake of exactly that kind of humility. And I feel like I’ve been conquered and like I’ve overcome all at the same time.

It was a chain of silly, frustrating events that led to a poor response on my part. Events whose details at this point do not matter. But they were, after all, events that caused me to act in a way not God-honoring, and that in front of people I “lead”.

And so, after my pitiful display of a joyless, stressful attitude, I found myself with two choices. To hope no one noticed, which would have been ignorant of me, or to ask for forgiveness.

Asking for forgiveness in and of itself is not easy- from a parent, mentor, peer, friend- not easy at all. But to ask it from a position of leadership, from people who have allowed you to speak into their lives, that my friends is utterly humbling. To ask for forgiveness without downplaying sin. Without highlighting what you did well, without casting blame and pointing out how it wasn’t just you. Without any of these things. Pure, unadulterated, humility. The humility that Christ has called us to.

And no one ever said it was easy. Oh that we would daily crucify our sinful nature in pursuit of holiness, and let Christ, not others, bandage the scars it leaves in our pride.

“For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.” 2 Corinthians 8:21

-Erica

And now for some of the highlights from over the past months!! (Hover over the picture for a caption)

Spring Alturas Internship:

In April, a 7.8 earthquake devastated the Ecuadorian coast, killing nearly 700 people. Please continue to pray for those affected, as they are still in a long process of grieving and rebuilding.

Summer Internship:

Progress on the dining hall/dorm room project:

August Adventure Camp:

Current Fall Alturas Internship:

Thank you for walking beside us in this crazy, yet wonderful, journey.

september-family-picture

2 Comments

Filed under Adventure Camp, Alturas, Pictures, Summer Internship

A new season

A couple weeks ago we went from our biggest group of interns (8, from September to December) to our smallest group (3, from February to May).

(As we’re adjusting to the new, smaller, dynamic, I’ve discovered that keeping the house stocked with an accurate amount of bananas is a challenge. I completely overbought a couple of weeks ago and now we have a fruit fly problem. Yay. Bring on the banana bread.)

IMG_8484Now that we have a baby, it’s certainly very timely that we only have three interns. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about continuing to be house parents with a newborn. It certainly has its challenges, but for the most part we’ve enjoyed embarking on this new journey together. The noise hasn’t affected nap time, which was my biggest concern, and he doesn’t seem to wake the interns at night. Our biggest challenge right now is learning (and accepting) that being house parents now looks different than it did when it was just the two of us. Our priorities have changed, and so has the way we spend our time. It’s a good different, but different nonetheless.

Please pray for us as we make decisions about what is best for the three of us. As Caleb grows, we’ll have to continue to evaluate what it looks like to do ministry as a family.

In addition to the arrival of our interns, things have been busy. One word to sum up the past several weeks? Trainings.

At the end of January, we enjoyed our Annual Team Conference here in Quito. It was a much needed time of worship, community, and fun with the rest of our team. What a blessing it is to serve beside these people.

At the beginning of February, Ryan helped give a Wilderness First Aid class to some of our facilitators. (Photo credit: Dan Klassen)

Immediately following that training, Ryan participated in a Wilderness First Responder class for a week. Knowing what to do in emergency situations in the wilderness is crucial since Ryan often takes interns and facilitators backpacking off site. The class is also a blessing as several other situations arise throughout the year just being here at the camp.

As soon as that training ended, we welcomed the three new interns. During their first weekend here, Ryan and several other staff members trained them as facilitators so that they’ll be able to help us with the groups that come.

Pray with us for Briar (US), Sebas (Costa Rica), and Ale (Colombia) as they serve alongside us for the next few months. They have already been a tremendous blessing to us. Pray that God would grow them (and us) during their time here.

2 Comments

Filed under Alturas, Ecuador, Uncategorized

Ending 2015…

November and December were months filled with activity and growth.

We finished out our fall internship and praise God for three months of walking and learning with these eight interns. While it was especially hard for them to resolve conflicts with one another, we thank you for your prayers as we did see marked change in the way many of them navigated their interactions by the end of their time. We are excited for them as they are returning to their homes, eager to use what they learned. Pray with us for them- that they would bear fruit that would last.

We celebrated many birthdays:

and enjoyed games, impromptu dance parties, and just spending time together:

We hosted Thanksgiving for our team of 45:

and then decorated for Christmas:

We had a Christmas dinner with the facilitators:

and on the following day we welcomed our son, Caleb, to the world!

Yes, November and December have been good months indeed.

For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.” Psalm 86:10

Thank you for walking this journey with us.

-Erica

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Alturas, Ecuador, Uncategorized

A full house…

IMG_8187It’s hard to believe we’re in the middle of our 7th internship as house parents. This semester we have 8 interns, the most we’ve ever had, from the US, Colombia, Mexico, and Ecuador. It’s the first time we’ve mixed internship types; in the past we’ve either had US interns or Latin American interns at one time.

Intern Backpacking Trip in early October!

Intern Backpacking Trip in early October!

It’s been a challenge giving classes in both languages, providing ingredients for them to cook with from several cultures, and being sensitive to the culture shock that’s unavoidable when people from so many different backgrounds are living together.

I have to admit that this internship has tested me on many levels. It almost feels like a final exam where I have to apply all the knowledge I’ve acquired in the each previous internship all at once.

Preparing to facilitate an Ecuadorian school retreat.

Preparing to facilitate an Ecuadorian school retreat.

God is teaching us how to manage conflict in ways we’ve never experienced and how to be intentional about spending time with each individual when it’s tempting to treat them as a group. He’s growing us as a couple, preparing us for our own growing family, and teaching us how to depend on Him in good times and bad.

Pray for us as we continue to grow with these eight over the remaining six weeks. They leave on December 5th.

Pray for them as they learn how to resolve conflict, a major theme this semester, and as they learn what it means to love one another as Jesus commands. Pray that God would use even the most difficult situations to teach us about Him.

Pray for them as they travel to the jungle this weekend to serve! Some of them are coming down with colds, please pray for good health. Pray also that they would be the hands and feet of Jesus and that they would be known by their love.

-Erica

Our time with the Westover team at the beginning of August was such a tremendous blessing!! We deeply enjoyed our time with them and were encouraged by their hearts of service.

The two weeks of Adventure Camp in August went well! Several kids stepped out in faith and made decisions for Christ. Please pray for continued growth for these young people.

Celebrating a couple Birthdays…

We’re expanding our dining area! Construction is well under way!

1 Comment

Filed under Adventure Camp, Alturas, Ecuador

Thanksgiving in July!

Last night we hosted a goodbye party for our US summer interns, as the first two leave tomorrow. The others will be leaving next week.

Before the goodbye party we had one last family dinner together here in the intern house. What menu did they request, may you ask? Thanksgiving, of course! It makes no sense, but you don’t have to do too much persuading to get me to give the go ahead to have turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pie, and other Thanksgiving goodies! It was a full meal complete with all the trimmings, and a good way to wrap up their time with us as a family.

It also causes me to reflect on the many things we have to be thankful for this summer.

It’s almost August and the summer is winding down. June and July were months full of activity: teams from the US coming to help serve, the arrival of our five US summer interns, time spent serving (and playing!) with them, and an unexpected forest fire.

Below are pictures from the forest fire. We’re so thankful that no damage was done to any buildings or elements and that no one was hurt. Praise God!

Here are our interns! We are so thankful for the five of them. It’s hard to believe that their time is drawing to a close. What a blessing it was to serve beside them this summer.

Their time was busy and passed quickly but they are all leaving something with us as they go. Please pray with us as they return home. Last night at the goodbye party they expressed a desire to use the transformation that took place in their lives this summer as they go back to the US. Pray that they would do so. That God would continue to do a work in them and in others through them.

We are also grateful as a team from our church in Greensboro, Westover, arrives in a few hours! Pray for their time here, that God would use it to bear fruit in their lives and in the lives of others. They will be with us until August 8th.

2015 Ecuador Team, 72res

Our two weeks of adventure camp are coming up soon, starting August 17th! Pray for the kids (ages 12-16) that God would bring to the camp. That He would prepare hearts and use this time to transform lives. Pray also for our counselors. That God would bring the right young people to be lights in the lives of the campers and that He would use the time to transform them (ans us!) as well. We’ve seen God do amazing things through the open adventure camp in previous years. Pray that we would be sensitive to His leading during this time. May He be glorified!

And of course we can’t forget about the baby! We are so thankful for this little life that God is growing inside of me. Pray with us as He prepares us for this next chapter in life.

Our hearts are as full as these months have been with activity. And we are thankful. Oh so thankful for the many blessings God has given us this summer. He is so good.

May we celebrate Thanksgiving at all times of the year, as we always remember to give thanks.

Leave a comment

Filed under Adventure Camp, Ecuador, Pictures, Summer Internship

We are family!

(Admit it. You sang the song.)
11202880_634784569999107_8937797992625566604_oOne of the things Ryan and I have desired with the discipleship house is to use it to create a sense of family. It’s true, of course, that we’re all family in Christ, but there is something to be said about the opportunity to learn how to be a family unit at home with young people who have never experienced or even witnessed it before. We’ve learned that it’s something to be intentional about, but at the same time it needs to develop naturally. We’ve had internships where it’s happened and others where it hasn’t even come close.

During our most recent Latin American internship from March through May, family was one of the biggest themes to emerge at the end of their time. All four of them came from broken homes and embraced the idea of creating community in the form of family. From situations of separation, abuse, and heartbreak, they left with at least a small glimpse of what God’s redeeming grace can accomplish in the lives of all of us broken people.

It is our prayer that as they return to their homes and to their relationships, that they embrace the idea of family as God has established it. That through God’s strength and grace, they might be part of a new generation. One of loyalty and perseverance in the difficult times. One that breaks with the stereotype that “it’s all about me”. One where self-sacrifice reigns and love prevails in the face of adversity. Family is hard. Marriage is hard. Forgiveness is hard. Following Jesus is hard. But by His grace, may these young people be the light at the end of a tunnel of a long family line of brokenness.

Pray with us for them. For restoration and healing from the past. As well as for eager anticipation and hope for the future. With Christ, all things are possible and all things are made new.

Praise Him!

-Erica

Some pictures from our March-May Alturas Internship:

We have five new US interns with us until August in our summer Basecamp Internship. They are a huge blessing and have been serving in many different ways with the groups that have come out to El Refugio. Pictures from their time to come!

2 Comments

Filed under Alturas