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I assume that most of you know me well enough to know part of, if not all of my story since 2006. If you don’t ask me sometime, but here is a brief overview is that I was married in November 2006 and she left on Thanksgiving 2007.  My life was torn apart and it had to be rebuilt from scratch.  The divorce was final sometime in 2008 and by that time I had started going back to church and began healing.  If it wasn’t for God and my parents instilling in me that he was there, I would not be here.

There was a lot of healing that went on in 2008-09 in regards to knowing that I needed the Lord in my life and nothing else could take his place.  However, I was still carrying so much baggage from the marriage that I did not know how to get rid of.  Finally in May 2010, I stumbled across Dust ( the community) I have had the pleasure of being a part of for 3 years.  The love and support that I have received from this community along with a deliverance process that I took part in helped me get free of the baggage that I was still carrying and helped me forgive my ex wife, myself, etc.

Before I went through this exercise of forgiving people and myself, I could not even think about my ex-wife without being angry or sad.  I certainly was not able to pray for her and just didn’t care in I ever saw or spoke to her again.  However, something changed when I forgave her.  God changed my heart and I cared about her again.  I began to pray for her some as time went by and really just asked for a few things.  1. That she would be blessed and 2. That she would draw close to God.  I didn’t pray all the time but you know from time to time when I thought of my life with her and everything we had gone through.  I still don’t think I desired any so called reconcilation or hope that maybe one day we would be able to say sorry to each other and go on with our lives.  If I did , I probably would have wrote her.

So this actual story begins approximately two months ago.  One Saturday, a few Dusties decide they want to hang out at the park and so I go not expecting anything out of the ordinary.  As I’m playing frisbee, I see my dog Hank that we had together and I had given back to her in 2008.  He was on a lease with my ex wife’s step father and having a blast just walking around the park.  I by no means wanted to speak with this guy though because of things that had happened with him as well and so I did not approach them.

A few weeks went by and for some reason, it kept crossing my mind that man Hank looked so happy and healthy and I wish I could just thank her for taking care of him.  I then thought well I was good friends with her current fiance about 4 years ago, I’ll just Facebook message him about it. Yes, I know its weird that she dates an old friend of mine and that they just had a kid together but I decided to do it anyway.  My message below:

Hey man I know this is weird but #1 congrats on your new son with Liz and #2 i saw my old dog hank at the park with Tony today but didnt approach for obvious reasons so I wanted to tell her thanks for taking care of him all these years but saw she didn’t have a Facebook anymore #3 wish you all the best

I was just going to leave it at that. I  didn’t expect anything back other than maybe ” yeah i’ll do that.”

About two weeks later, I’m sitting downstairs and I get a Facebook message from her.  I was a little weirded out and gathered myself before I clicked on it.  Her message below:

Hey
***** told me you saw my mom with hank he is doing well. Thanks for the congrats that was nice. I hope this is not weird but it is something I have felt God has asked me to for a long time and I didn’t know how to go about it so I have put it off. God has been doing a lot in my life and has been working on my heart. I just wanted to say I’m sorry for the hurtful role I had in our marriage. I cannot go back and change those things but I can ask for forgiveness. So there it is and i should have said it a long time ago. I hope God brings blessings to your life just as He has mine.

BAMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!

I was overwhelmed with emotions, I cried a little bit but not much.  I think I was relieved and maybe just happy surprised.  I think God picked the right moment in time.  It’s one thing for her to realize that she had a hurtful role in the marriage and that she was sorry but the fact that she expresses the two things that I prayed for for her these past few years was beyond comprehension.

1. I hope God brings blessings to your life just as He has mine.

2. God has been doing a lot in my life and has been working on my heart.

These two things sound a lot like the two things I prayed for , don’t you think?  There is hope for things that you don’t think there can be hope for.  There is hope for things that you pray for.  There is hope!  Look, I know that me and her are never going to be friends again but the fact that God has blessed her and we have both forgiven each other , is a beautiful thing!

I just can’t say enough about how God orchestrates and restores things. He is good!  I will praise him all of my days!

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Solitude leading to Compassion

I think I’ve always had a decent amount of compassion for people.  Although some of that may have been taken away based on working in retail for years.  But all the same, I still generally care for my neighbor and would love for everyone to have joy, be blessed, and most of all know the creator of the universe.

I just returned from a retreat at Mepkin Abbey monastery and there are going to be a lot of things that I write about in the coming weeks but I want to begin with two quotes from Richard Foster and his book Celebration for Discipline.  The first quote is “Like Jesus, we must go away from people so that we can truly be present when we are with these people.”  The second being “The fruit of solitude is increased sensitivity and compassion for others.  There becomes a new freedom to be with people.  There is new attentiveness to their needs, new responsiveness to their hurts.”  Both of these quotes became very true to me after this retreat.  I have a huge desire to be present with my community and other people going forward.  I also feel a new sensitivity/ compassion towards people in general.  Everywhere I go now it seems like I’m praying for people who walk by with a limp or who look angry or sad.  However, my real desire to to pray “with” these people and listen to their stories regardless of how hard it may be to hear.  I’ve also noticed a desire to actually talk to others and getting them to talk more about themselves and not going away feeling like I talked about myself too much.  And last, I feel a renewed freedom to share with my community on a deeper level.  I feel like God is definitely doing a work here.

My problem has always been expressing or putting this compassion into action.  For the last few months, I’ve been screaming inside to do something/anything for God  I’ve used many different excuses such as “I can’t do this alone” or “I don’t know what to do” to “I don’t have enough faith to do that,” etc.  I’m needing to go ahead and just do this and jump in.  How? Well, I know some people who do street ministry or I could just randomly pray for someone.  I ask that you pray with me for the the right opportunity and that God will give me grace and I will be able to jump in and “Just do it.”

My greatest two fears right now

Why would I write about the two things that I fear the most right now and don’t want to talk about?  God told me to and I’m sure it is because some of you( if not all) will be able to relate in one way or another.

Fear #1 The Fear of Confrontation

I have always been the one to give up my lunch money instead of putting up a fight.  I have felt like that if somebody wants to argue or confront me, I must be in the wrong or have hurt them somehow.  So I give in and let them have there way and I therefore have been a push over most of my life.  However, in the last few years, I have realized that I must put up a fight for some things that I believe in.  If I don’t I will most likely end up being in trouble or involved in something that I never intended to be a part of and that usually holds me back from what I’m actually suppose to be doing.  So there comes a point where you can love and care for a person so much that you will not want to confront them on certain things that you need for them to do or that you need from them.  I had been growing from no confrontation at all to trying to be the most loving and non-direct as possible.  This can work rarely but most of the time it ends up to where somebody is confused or you give in and your right back to where you were in the first place.  So at this point I fluctuate between being non-direct and knowing that I need to be direct and loving.  I know I need to graduate to being as direct and as loving at the same time.  I need to just say things when they need to be said and get it out so that they clearly understand.  Now there is still a way to do this in a loving healthy way.  You can be bold and loving at the same time.  Verses that comes to mind are 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity. God want us to be bold and not fear.  Deuteronomy 31:6 So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them.  For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you.  He will neither fail you nor abandon you.  So let’s be bold and confront things we need to confront head on.  Please pray that I am able to do this as there is a situation in my life where I need to do a much better job at this.

Fear #2 Being Alone

This one I really do not want to talk about at all but I know I need to.  I know that it is dumb but I fear being by myself.  It’s not that I don’t know that The Lord is there, it’s because he is there.  I’ve never been disappointed with being alone with him but I know that when I’m alone that I’m vulnerable.  The loneliest times in my life were very hard even though I knew he was there.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that he will be gentle with me but I just get this anxiety and anxiousness right now when I think about being alone.  I seem to think he is going to make me change and have me do something else.  I’m blessed to be a part of the best community of believers that I’ve ever been a part of and again for some reason I feel like he wants to take them away and that I will not want to do what he wants.  It’s very likely that he just wants me to be with him and him alone and for me to trust him .  He may just want me to be away from them for a small period of time because they represent my comfortable place.  I know that when your comfortable then its time to move and do something else.  I know that he’s not going to make me do something that I don’t desire but its really hard for me to believe and trust in that right now that he really does have the best in mind and has great plans for me to prosper and have a great life.  I’m looking to go on a solitude retreat so that I can go be alone with him.  I would love that you could pray that I do that and that in the future, I would not be hesitant to go away with him in solitude.  I want to be okay when its just me and him.  I want to have a good relationship and be friends and have great conversations.  I want this so that when he brings the right woman for me then I can only trust in my relationship w/ him and therefore know that me and her will be okay as well.  Lastly, I want to be able to trust in Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28.

We have been in the book of Hosea at my college young adult ministry on Tuesdays.  It is very interesting what God calls Hosea to do in taking a wife of prostitution.  Yet, if you think of it in this story; we are Gomer.  We tend to deny, disobey, ignore, reject God just as she does Hosea.  However, God chooses to love Gomer and Hosea does as well and keeps going after her.  He has a covenant relationship to where he just can’t but help to love her (us).

Now bear with me as I’m going to be vulnerable here but I also know what it’s like to be Hosea in this story because of my marriage fallout.  My ex-wife left me on Thanksgiving of 2007 in which come to found out was for a man that she had gone out with two days prior to that.  I knew that they had gone out but was a little naive at the time and actually didn’t care much because our relationship had already fallen apart.  The point being she ended up pregnant 3 months later and had a little girl in 2008.  I did not know until I stumbled upon a message from the father asking the ? if I had been with her.  I had not but when I found out I was devastated again because it was such a desire of my heart to become a father.  I had so many thoughts of Why was I not good enough and Didn’t I give you everything that you needed?  I couldn’t bear thinking about it much without being depressed and I hated her for it intensely.  So when Gomer does this to Hosea or when we do this to God he doesn’t hate us?  Say What!

This love that he provides is the best thing that I have ever experienced.  Even though I only catch small glimpses from time to time it is overwhelming.  I think I’ll be asking why for the rest of my life just because it’s unbelievable.  There is no good explanation to why he did what he did in my and your place.  We continue to be unfaithful from time to time and yet he is there every time when we come home.  I know what this unfaithfulness does to someone and how much pain, hurt, frustration, and hate it causes.  However, all he does is love.

Romans 5:8   But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Let’s praise him for his covenant love that we may never understand completely!

It’s one thing to know God was fully human and fully God through Jesus Christ his son.  It is another to know and understand that Jesus knew and experienced our same emotions.  I don’t normally think of Jesus being depressed and lonely.  At times, he was rejected, broken, mocked, and despised.  Jesus knew the Father and he was within the Father just as he is within us.  I feel like he knew what to do with those emotions because knowing the Father.  If we know the Father and press into him while we experience any of these so called negative emotions, I think we can come out of it much quicker because we will know how to deal with them.  We will be able to recognize that his love covers us and he wants to lavish it on us.  It’s like real life, you can love somebody from afar but if they are right there before you, you can really love them and show it.  The Lord wants to be close to you.  You can always look to Jesus as an example because he experienced the things we experience, he experienced human life.

Lima

This post will not be as organized as the one about Cusco because I was not able to write everything down in chronological order.  We were sad to leave Cusco on Wednesday the 15th but knew that the Lord had something else for us in Lima.  It was definitely something completely different and we were excited.  It was a desire of Paulo’s to see a ministry in his country like the one that we are a part of here in Charlotte.  He wanted to know God can do things in his own country through discipleship and community.  We also began to think of what we could to do help in Cusco and what it would looked like.

When we arrived we were met by Mark and Shaun.  Mark is from Sheffield, England and him and his wife Anna began the ministry there approximately 5 years ago.  Shaun and Amanda are from Texas and they moved to Peru about two years ago to help with the ministry.  They are a couple who are about the same age as us so we were able to relate to them pretty well.  We were taken to Shaun and Amanda’s first because that is where we would be staying.  We then began to meet all the leaders who are a part of this community and ministry called Oikos.  This ministry has about 12 leaders(English,American, Canadian, and Peruvian) in which they together seek to make disciples in shanty towns near by called Pacifico and San Genaro and are working on disciplining a people group called the Shipibo who live in the jungle.  You can probably get a better idea of what they do through Shaun and Amanda’s website http://www.calledtoperu.org/

We were able to take part in a meeting where they working to translate concepts of discipleship into the Shipibo language.  It was a very interesting time because you had three languages being spoken all at once.  They are also working to translate other things for this people and it is very challenging but will be very rewarding when people come to Christ because of their work.  We also took part in some other meetings and small groups in which they taught these things to English and Spanish leaders.  You could see that they understood much quicker because the language barrier wasn’t there.

The whole time there I was just amazed at how similar their model of church was to ours at Dust and Renovatus.  Even though they get to spend a lot more time together as a community.  It was truly a healthy community of believers who live life out together.  They meet together, confess to one another, our vulnerable and transparent with each other, love each other, and even eat together everyday at Lunch.  I felt like I was at home in this place away from home.

A few of the main concepts that I took from my time there was that there has to be challenge in a community.  You have to have a spiritual father/mother who is encouraging you to be who God created you to be.  If you don’t have that you are going to gravitate towards being a talker and not a doer.  I loved the fact that every member of their leadership team was active in the community not just leading a small group and being there going through the motions.  Everybody was passionate about their community and wanting to grow closer to God and at the same time grow the people around them.

Other things we got to do was be a part of a couple church services.  One was in Pacifico and that is where I told my testimony for the 2nd time in Peru.  The other service was in Mark and Anna’s house and Paulo was able to tell his testimony there for the 2nd time as well.  We met some of the kids in the neighborhood and recently we heard one of them got saved so that’s awesome.  We got to spend an evening with Paulo’s parents and Shaun and Amanda.  They might be able to start a small group at his parent’s house which would be amazing.  Please pray that this happens and that God is able to touch Paulo’s family and that they would all come to Christ.

There are so many other details and little things I can talk about here but I just love all the new friends I was able to come away with: Mark and Anna, Shaun and Amanda, Nancy, Erling, Anna Lou, Rosa, Liliana, Steve, Ronald, etc.(If you are in the etc. sorry I love you too)

I truly felt more blessed and poured into by this community then I felt like I helped or blessed them.  This ministry is the real deal and I was overwhelmingly amazed by my week with them.  The hope to find a ministry to where we could partner with in Cusco in the future was definitely made here.  I know that we will be together with this group again as we bring teams down to Peru.  I hope this blog made some sense.  I just can’t seem to think of all the details tonight.

Cusco

We arrived in Cusco early Thursday morning because we couldn’t get all three flights in one day.  I was to excited to go to sleep and therefore may of slept somewhere between 30mins-hour.  The airport is very small in Cusco and soon as we got our bags we had to find the missionary who was picking us up.  We didn’t see him and so we tried to call but couldn’t figure out how to dial yet.  We walked outside and then saw Ricky.  Ricky had a giant smile on his face and I knew he was the one even though I had never seen him in my life.  All I have to say about him is that you could tell he had Jesus right away.  We then drove to his home which wasn’t very far from the airport (Thank God since we had been traveling for 19 hours).

Upon arriving at Ricky and Tracie’s house, we met Tracie and their two kids Isabella and Milan.  They provided breakfast to us, talked a little about the trip in, and recommended that we get some rest.  We then went to our rooms and took a nap of about 5 hours.  I woke up and began to feel a slight headache and contributed that to the high altitude(11,000 ft compared to Charlotte 751ft).  I eventually took some Advil and was back to normal.  Ricky and Tracie then began to tell us over lunch what they do as missionaries and some of the stories of their last few years there.  You could tell immediately that the work has been hard and they have had some tough times getting this ministry off the ground.  They needed help, need help now, and will need help because they are having to move back to Chile based on a eye sickness that Tracie has that is caused by the high altitude.  They proceeded to take us up the mountain and show us the church and the land around the church.  From the church, you can see the entire city and man you could just stand there and pray for it for hours I think.  On the way back to the house, we went to the Plaza de Armas (center square of the city).  The route we took we went by one of the catholic cathedrals and we saw that they were having a party/festival complete with mass alcohol, food, and people being wasted and going to the bathroom on the side of the road.  Apparently, the catholic churches allow this kind of thing to go on often and many people are alcoholics in this region.  So on the first day, we saw a huge need for God to do something and save these people.

Friday was the morning soccer game and we went and played with Ricky, Jorge(has the call to be the pastor there), and a bunch boys from the neighborhood.  We played for a little over an hour and then shared a soda drink with all the kids.  I had a awesome time playing even though it was hard to play because of the high altitude(less oxygen).  When we went back to the house this time, we stopped by the supermarket for a few things.  While we waited outside for them to pay, Paulo saw a painter  and started a conversation and invited him to church.  Paulo impressed me on this trip on his willingness to just talk with people and show his kindness to everyone.  When we got home we just began to build the relationship with Ricky and Tracie and the 2 kids.  We ate three small meals a day and just loved being at the table together.

Saturday consisted of youth group and we met with approximately 8-10 teenagers.  Jorge talked about true biblical baptism and had the youth answer questions and participate very well.  We also sang a few worship songs and at the end Paulo and I just said a few things to encourage the youth.  Ricky and Tracie really have started the church because of their kids and youth ministries.  They tried to grow the church the traditional way of doing events and things and nothing worked until they just started with the kids.  It’s very important that they pour into the kids so that the new generation can tell the older generations.  They said that they can have up to 100 kids sometimes on Saturdays.  The youth can have 20-30 and the adults can have about 30.

Church on Sunday was an amazing experience.  Just to sing and have communion with others from the body of Christ more than 3000 miles from home was incredible.  The message was about the adulterous woman and how we should not judge others because of our own sin.  Before the message though Paulo and I were able to share our testimonies for about 15 minutes.  It was easier than I thought it was going to be but that’s probably because I had my Iphone and Paulo was translating.  It was the first time I had actually told my testimony to more than 2 people at a time so I was pretty nervous beforehand.  After church we went to eat at this chicken place.  Awesome!  We then went back to the house to pack because Ricky and Tracie suggested we take the trip to Machu Picchu.  We had set up the trip on Saturday and one of the tourist guide shops.  This reminds me of our taxi ride to go set up the trip.  Paulo was talking to the driver and found out that he was having health concerns with gallbladder stones.  Paulo asked him if we could pray for him and he said Yes!  We laid hands on him and prayed right there before we got out of the taxi.

After packing we headed to be picked up by the taxi to the tourist shop.  We were then picked up by another taxi that took us to the longer out of town taxi place.  After getting in this car we then began our crazy/interesting car ride to Ollanytambo so that we could catch the train.  When we arrived we had a few hours to spare so we explored the town, ate dinner, etc.  We took the train at 9 to Machu Picchu the town and went to the hotel where Ricky was able to recommend.  It was a pretty nice place but we only got to stay about 6 hours before we had to get up and head out to go the top of the mountain.  When we woke up to leave it was already pouring down and we were told it would be sort of dangerous to hike up but we chose to anyway.  I sort of regret this decision now but at the same time I don’t.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read my blog about the hike.

Machu Picchu is truly deserving of its wonder of the world status.  It is a beautifully constructed place made by the Incans in the 1500s or so.  We were able to learn quite a bit by taking the english tour guides tour.  After the long day, we heard that the town had some hot spring pools.  We weren’t sure if we could go or not because we had already checked out of the hotel but they allowed us to use their bathrooms and change and held our bags in a secure place.  We went up to the top of the town where they were located and were able to spend about an hour before we had to leave and get ready for the train back to Ollanytambo.  We took the train back and when we got out to find our ride back I was instantly freezing because of the rain coming down and me wearing flip flops.  I didn’t have a change because my shoes were soaked from the morning.  Well our ride wasn’t there right away and we going to have to wait like an hour with no bathroom whatsoever but then they told us to get in this other bus van.  OH MAN!  Another crazy ride!  This guy hit a speed bump and all the baggage in the back fell out the door.  He proceeded to put it back in and then keep driving.  I’m glad I was in the back because apparently this guy was falling asleep driving and swerving and doing crazy stuff all the way back to Cusco.  I just know the Lord took care of us that night.  We were taken to different plaza in the city and had to catch another taxi to the house at like 2am.  I was so cold again I was relieved when I climbed in the covers.  Praise God I didnt get sick.  Tuesday was Valentines day and we were able to sleep in because of the previous night but we again just had a good day with our new missionary friends.

Tuesday is small group or bible study but we had to go on our own because Ricky and Tracie had a date :).  I think it was planned this way because after the study was over, God told us to pray over each person that was at the church.  Paulo would begin to pray and give words and I would just pray and then God would give me words for these people(which i needed translated but all the same).  God was defining the roles that these people were going to have in this church so that they could continue growing.  I was so thankful that God gave me a word for everyone of those 8 or 9 people because I thought I was going to run out.  Lame I know.  I should trust him and know that he isn’t going to leave anybody out.

Wednesday was the day we had to leave for Lima.  We packed up and gave our gift to Ricky and Tracie.  It was truly bittersweet to leave because we enjoyed our time there but we also knew that God was going to do more.  They prayed for us at the house and then we prayed for them at the airport.  We prayed that God would truly give them rest in this coming season of moving back to Chile and discovering their new roles.

Overall, Cusco was truly an amazing experience. We saw a huge need there and we really have a passion for it.  Please pray with us as we pray that God will put Cusco on people’s hearts to go there.  Please pray for Ricky and Tracie and also Jorge and his wife.  Please pray that people take on their roles and the church continues to grow.

Leading a change

I think I realized sometime during this trip and that is leadership is very important.  Sometime we do not see the effect of the people who are leaders in our lives until we step into another environment.  My leaders have been extremely important in my life and I literally would not know where I would be if it was not for them.  I realize that leadership is hard sometimes because it requires giving of yourself and rarely receiving back but think of the effects of leadership in your life.  So I say this because it made me think about the fact that if we do not have good and healthy leaders, this message about Jesus is not going to go as far as we want it in the world when we think about it in our minds.  My assumption is that you want as many people to come to Christ as possible.  Well, how is this going to happen?  Only through good leadership and discipleship within a community.

The point is that I want to be a better leader than what I have been because I want people to see and know Christ.  I want to affect and disciple people so that they can in return do the same thing. I want this so that this world would know Christ faster than if I was just taking it to them myself which I obviously can’t do and I would get burnt out.  I want the body of Christ to grow and to be healthy and become ready to be the bride.  I want people to be within a healthy community so that they can be transparent and vulnerable and know that somebody loves them and is family.  I am going to be making a bettor effort to be the leader that God has called me to be.  I will make myself available to people, speak into lives, and disciple to the best of my ability.  Will you join me?

The Hike to Machu Picchu

The trip to Machu Picchu(named one of The new 7 wonders of the world) was truly a blessing because the missionaries actually encouraged us to go and they even had a friend at a hostel in the town.  We were planning to go only if we had time and they didn’t need us to do anything.  So we set it up with a travel agency and were on our way shortly after telling our testimonies and eating lunch after church Sunday.

I’ll cut to the actual learning experience and hike Monday morning.  Paulo and I got up early Monday morning because we planned to walk/hike up to the top to meet the tour guide.  I don’t know if it was because it was so early or I just didn’t think/understand that this was going to actually going to be a hike because I wore jeans, tshirt, rain jacket, hat, and poncho because it was pouring down rain the entire time.  After hiking up for a little bit, I began to have problems because I was soaked. So right there on the trail, I changed into shorts and continued on.  I feel like changing into something else means I realized I didn’t prepare the right way and that I needed to re-evaluate the situation just like you may need to re-evaluate a choice you made in life.  We continued on for a little bit further and then I began to lose my breath very quickly.  I wasn’t pacing myself well and began taking breaks often.  I felt bad because I was not able to keep up with Paulo and he was having to wait often.  He was patient and began to talk to me and ask how I was doing.  He gave me some hints on how to continue and I gave it a try for another little bit but at this point I began to feel sick to my stomach and hot even though the cold rain was still pouring down.  At this point, I think my body was really rejecting the fact that I had some food that morning and that I was out of shape. haha.  I think the spiritual meaning was that when you are trying to grow in your relationship with God and go higher, there may be some purging or cleansing that he needs to do.  I tried to keep drinking water and a girl on the trail even stopped at offered some energy juice of some sort.  I just kept feeling sick and the energy was zapped out of me.  I don’t even think we were a 1/4 of the way up and I felt like I was done.

Paulo felt led to pray for me at that point and asked the Lord to help me and give me the strength.  I really thank God for the brother that he is.  It’s times like this in life where you don’t have anything left and you need somebody to come along side you and be Christ to you.  He was Christ to me on that mountain.  He prayed, he encouraged, he loved, he was patient, he was kind.  Another 10 minutes or so after him praying, I was ready to continue only because I was wanting to persevere.  I was still feeling pretty crappy but I went on step by step.  Soon, I felt better as the air began to come out of my stomach and it settled.  I also just took one step at a time and took deep breaths purposely and consciously.  All the while, Paulo continued to encourage me and took breaks when I absolutely needed them still.  I look back now and it seems like that the last 3/4 probably took as long as the first 1/4.  We finally made it up that mountain and although we missed the tour guide starting out we were able to catch up with him and learn about the awesome place Machu Picchu is.  God taught me many things on this day but most of all he taught me perseverance and what it takes to get past some obstacles that I/we will come across in life in order for us to grow and become closer to him.  However, I still took the bus down the mountain, lol.

Discovered Identity

I am not even sure how this happened although I think it was a combination of your prayers and God just lavishing his love on me.  For many years, I heard what I was in Christ and the privilege it is to be a child of God but I always only understood to a certain point.  It was almost like, I knew who I was and then I lost it during that time in my life and then I found it again.  No, this time I can tell the difference with the way I feel, speak, and interact with people.  Something clicked or switched on in Peru and I began to feel an overwhelming boldness, confidence, and peace in my Spirit.  I walked around secure and confident in who I was and what I was doing.  I didn’t think about what others thought about me and I was okay with rejection and conflict for once.  I didn’t really experience either of those two really but knew I would sometime in the future.  Suddenly, the verses 2 Corinthian 5:17 and Romans 8:15 made sense.  I truly am a son of the living God and he has given me the ability to do so much and proclaim his name throughout the ends of the earth!  Thanks for praying for me and this is the first of many blogs to come from the trip!