Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Marry Christmas everyone! This month in my devotional "Voices of the Faithful" the focus is Christmas Around the World . On Monday I was reading about a woman who was having a hard time celebrating Christmas being so far from her friends and family. Her exact words were “Serving the Lord through international missions is fantastic. I would be miserable doing anything else. However, there is one time of year that seems difficult-Christmas. I am thousands of miles from my extended family and friends and from "normal" holiday activities." I couldn't believe what I was reading, I sure didn't remember Beth Moore coming to Peru to talk to me, but, there it was my own words and thoughts.

I love what I'm doing here, but I have defiantly been fighting homesickness more since Dec. 1st. Knowing that my family and friends were back home listening to Christmas music, baking cookies, putting up their Christmas trees, spending time with their families and trying to find just the "right" gift. While I'm here in Peru with NO Christmas music playing, NO kitchen to bake in, NO tree to put up, NONE of my familiar family or friends to spend time with and no money for just the "right" gift.

For the first time I realized how I had relied on MY own Christmas traditions in order for it to feel like Christmas. I wouldn't say that I had completely lost sight of the real meaning of Christmas, but I had certainly taking my eyes off of Him. Sometimes it takes loosing something or someone to realize what is or was most important in our lives. Please not forget the real meaning of Christmas! Oh and could you eat a cookie and Christmas candy for me ;). Thanks!

Okay, so after all that let me tell you a little about celebrating Christmas in Peru. First off, I have not heard one Christmas hymn sung in Church or on the radio. I found out the other day that the reason we have not heard any is because they only sing 3 Christmas hymns."Silent Night! Holy Night!” Hark! The Herald Angels sing", and "Joy to the World". Fruit cake is VERY big here, but it’s more like sweet bread with fruit candies. Also they love hot chocolate, the real stuff. They melt a chocolate bar with milk and sugar. Yummy!Melissa's Mom sent her a little Christmas tree for the girls dorm and Heather gave us her left over decorations, these little things remind us that it is Christmas in spite of what the weather might be telling us :). Also Laura's Mom sent her some homemade cookies and candies, sure am glad we all share around here :)! We decided to draw names for secret Santa, but the gift can't be more than 10 soles (about $ 3.50).
On Monday I went out with a few of the girls to try and find a gift and I think we walked around for an hour and a half and finally I gave up and looked again another day. It's so much harder to go shopping here.In Peru everyone stays up till midnight on Christmas Eve and then opens their gifts, they play games, drink hot chocolate, and eat fruit cake. One on my favorite things about the Christmas season is the Christmas Eve service at our church. When I signed up to do devos on the 24th I knew exact ally what I wanted to do, well my date got changed to the 23rd but I didn't care. I had people read and sing some in English and some in Spanish. It went very well, not as good as the real Christmas Eve service but a good one all the same!

Yes, things are different here, but that’s doesn't mean it's not just as wonderful! Thank you Father, for all that you've taught me this Christmas!!Hugs and Loves to all my family and friends!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Birthday!!!

Molly, Olivia and Alexis,

I´m very sorry I´m not there to celebrate your birthdays this year, but please know that I love and miss all three of you very much! This blog is for 3 of the GREATEST nieces in the world! I know you all can´t read but maybe your Mommy or Daddy will tell you about it someday.

Some of the greatest moments in my life have been when your parents told me I was going to be an Aunt. And on Dec. 8th, 15th and the 21st when three of the most beautiful little girls were born!

Molly, I love your beautiful smile! My favorite thing to do with you is play on the floor, it really doesn´t matter what we are doing just as long as we are together. I would do anything I could to make you smile! I can´t believe you have turned 1 already and that you are walking and talking! I hope they are teaching you my name, hint, hint :)! I love and miss you very much Molly! Love always, Aunt Brittany

Olivia, I love you hear you laugh! It makes me smile just thinking about hear it :). My favorite thing to do with you is dance in the kitchen. Your face lights up as soon as you hear the music. Make sure you save a dance for me for when I come home in Oct. You bring such joy to my life! Happy Birthday pretty Girl! I love and miss you! Hugs from Aunt Brittany

Alexis, I love your cheerful spirit, you bring warmth and light to every room you enter. My favorite thing to do with you is read books and play outside. You have loved to read books since you were little, I hope this is the case your whole life! You are always so full of energy and ready for an adventure, I love that! You are an amazing and sweet little girl! I love you! I miss you and can´t wait to see you again! With love and Hugs, Aunt Brittany

Happy Birthday Girls!!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A moment of clearity

Monday in class our teacher told us that we would be going to Padre Cocha (an island about 10 minutes across the Amazon) on Tuesday. He asked some people to prepare a skit, others to have games for kids and one person who would be willing to preach. Esther (my partner) and I decided to help with the skit, we got some help from our friends and had an idea of what we wanted to do. On afternoon when I was in town the other girls sat down and made an outline of the skit. I thought perfect all I have to do is show up and do my part, I forgot that I lived in Peru. Right before practice one of our guys said I think the skit is too long and maybe a little complicated. So he suggest a very simple skit he had done many times.

I'm learning that things more than likely will never go as you planned them too, and that's okay. This is a little difficult for me because I like to have a plan and stick with it :).

We practiced the skit a few times on wednesday night and called it good. I actually really liked this new skit and was very thankful that someone had suggested it! Thursday morning we got up at out usual hour of 5:45 am in order to be at chapel by 6:00 for devotions. At 7:00 we head to the dinning hall for breakfast. That left us with an hour and a half to get ready.

At 9am we grabbed a few moto taxies and headed out. Our teacher had gone ahead of us and gotten a boat for us to take across the river. We were all so excited to finally be ON the Amazon!!! We arrived on the island around 9:30, the pastor meant us at the church and told us a little about the island and their cultural. By 10:00 we were out knocking on peoples doors inviting them to come to the park at 4pm for the skit, games and preaching. Esther even made me do some of the inviting, I'm still struggling to speak Spanish. To be honest its mostly out of fear, but each day I over come that fear a little more.

When we were out we were literally walking through the jungle and right by the Amazon. I realized that this was what is was about. I had hated and wanted so bad to give up in Arequipa and every time I did Melissa would ask "Brittany,why are you here? " My answer was always, because God called me here. I can't tell you how incredible it feels to now see the fruits of God's labor (Even if its just a very small piece of fruit ;)), I know that there is no way I could have made it through without Him.

Seeing things clearly,

Monday, November 30, 2009

Looking up to see those around us.

This is a story from my devotional book “Voices of the Faithful” with Beth Moore. I was so touched by this womans courage. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Looking up to see those around us
“Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” John 4:35

Throughout the Gospels are accounts of Jesus weeping and being moved to compassion as He saw the multitudes. He also encouraged His disciples to lift up their eyes and see. I know why now.

It was a hot summer afternoon at a Mexico beach and we were celebrating the 10th birthday of one of our daughters. We had been missionaries for only six months when the unthinkable happened. My husband, oldest daughter, and two young summer missionaries were caught in a strong undertow and drowned.

As I knelt beside the bodies, my mind was filled with a thousand thoughts. How would I tell our families about this tragedy? What would become of our ministry in Mexico? How would I raise my other children without my husband? As my head was bowed, I was occupied with real concerns.

Then I lifted my eyes. Many people had gathered around us. I knew that my loss was great, but I knew that the loss of these around me was even greater. Mine was temporary; theirs was eternal.

I said, “This is my husband, daughter, and friends. They are now in the presences of their Lord and Savior. What if you were the ones of the sand? Do you know where your soul would be?”

In the town Playa Linda there was not a church, but there is now. It is filled with many who were on the beach that day. If we only take the time to lift up our eyes and see, the outcome of a trial could have miraculous results!
-Gloria, Middle America and the Caribbean

Father, Thank you for eternal life. Thank you for peace that you give in the midst of difficulties. May I never take my eyes off You. Help me to see the needs of the lost today. Amen.

How many times have you taken a walk and the whole time been looking down at your dirty old tennis shoes? And then all of the sudden you realize that you have been looking down and you raise your head to see the most beautiful sunset, or a pond covered with blooming lily pads. It’s like you were seeing the world around you and black and white and now you are seeing it in all its’ glorious color.

Let’s not miss out on the opportunity to help someone find eternal life. Or miss out of see this beautiful world our God created for us! Let’s look up and see that the harvest is white and ready!

Lifting my eyes up,

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Photos on my facebook...

Here is a link where anyone can go and see the pictures of the beach we made.

Some times you just need a day at the beach...

When life get's to be more than we can handle what do most of us do? We re-treat to a place were we find peace and comfort, for some of you this may not be the beach but, for my roommate Melissa this is were she feels most at home.

So this week Melissa experienced culture shock at its finest, or should I say at it's worst. Melissa has been here for me when I was going through cultural shock and missing home the most. She always found a way to pull me out of my pit and help me to find joy in the little things. So, I wanted to return the favor. Oh did I mention that Melissa moved here from Hawaii, I guess that would be why she loves the beach so much ;)!

So how do you turn your back yard in peru into a beach? First, you need friend who is willing to help you with your crazy idea. I have some amazing friends here, one of my friends is Laura. I could not have pulled this little stunt of without Laura's help! Okay so the beach doesn't exists without the ocean, right? We decided that a baby pool was the best we were going to find, so we made our list and headed to Walmart (aka Plaza Vea). We managed to find a pool, snorkel mask and snorkel and a few other little things.

When we arrived back at the house and told our family what we were going to do, they loved the idea and wanted to help in anyway. So we set up our beach, complete with an ocean, big umbrella, colorful towel, sunglasses, good book and a few snacks. Now, the real task, getting Melissa to come home. My Mom (here that is) said "just call her and tell her I'm sick and she needs to come home now". So, of course I did as my mom said and called her. When Melissa arrived home she had big tears in her eyes, but when we reassured her that our Mom was fine and showed her the beach, her tears of sadness turned to tears of joy!

Melissa, Laura and I spent the evening laying on the beach talking about life! What a perfect evening, well almost it would have been perfect if we had Smores' ;).

I'm grateful for the many friends and families God has given to me. May you also find joy this week in being with your friends and family......were ever you may be! Live, Laugh and most of all Love!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

15 Minutes of Fame....

Last Tuesday I had to speak in class for 10-15 minutes about my family, sadly there wasn't enought time to talk about my whole family. So this is as far as I got, hope you all enjoy reading Spanish ;)

Tengo 3 hermanos, 1 hermano y 2 hermanas. Mi hermano y hermana primeros son medios hermanos y lo que son mucho mayores que yo. Mi hermano está casado y vive en Kansas. Tiene 3 hijos, su primogénito es Alexis. Ella tiene los ojos azules más hermosos y el pelo rubio y rizado. Ella tendra 4 anos en diciembre. Su segunda hija es Emma Jean. Emma tiene el mismo segundo nombre que mi mamá, lo que hace a mi madre muy orgullosa. Emma cumplió 3 años en agosto. Emma siempre se mete en problemas, ella es en realidad parecida a mí. Y luego está Brant, el único hijo de mi hermano. Brant nació en mayo, así que no tiene ni siquiera 1 año de edad todavía. No tiene pelo en este momento, pero tiene la mas bella sonrisa.

Mi hermana mayor también está casado y vive en Kansas. Ella tiene 3 hijos. Mi sobrino mayor tiene 6 años de edad y nació 2 días antes de mi cumpleaños 13. Su nombre es Joshua. Tiene el pelo castaño y grandes ojos marrones. Me encanta y lo extraño mucho. Nos encanta jugar al fútbol americano e ir a la piscina en verano. Él está aprendiendo Karate y, a veces iba a tratar de enseñar me, pero yo estaba muy mal. Olivia tendra 4 en diciembre, que es sólo 6 días más que Alexis. Olivia tiene el pelo rubio y ojos azules. Le encantar cantar y bailar, ella también es una reina del drama mayor. Y luego está Molly, tiene el pelo rizado de color marrón con ojos azules. Molly tendra 1 ano en diciembre. Ella está aprendiendo a caminar, y su hermano y hermana tratan de ayudarla.

Mi hermana Tanya es no cosada, pero ella vive en Kansas tambien. Tanya es mi mejor amigo en el mundo entero. Ella está a sólo 2 años más y luego yo. Ella está en la universidad estudiando para ser ingeniero. Ella puede cantar y tocar el piano maravillosamente. Creo que ella ha estado tocando desde que tenía 7 años de edad.Tanya y yo la gustan ir al cine e ir de compras al centro comercial. Yo extrano de menos los tiempos en que se reía tan fuerte nuestro lado haría daño.

In English: I have 3 siblings, 1 brother and 2 sisters. My brother and first sister are half siblings and so they are much older than me. My brother is married and lives in Kansas. He has 3 children, his first born is Alexis. She has the most beautiful blue eyes and blond curly hair. She will be 4 in December. His second is Emma Jean. Emma has the same middle name as my mom, which makes my mom very proud. Emma turned 3 in August. Emma is always getting in trouble, she is actually a lot like me. And then there is Brant, my brother's only son. Brant was born in May, so he isn't even 1 year old yet. He has no hair right now, but he has the cutest smile.

My oldest sister is also married and lives in Kansas. She has 3 kids. My oldest nepew is 6 years old and was born 2 days before my 13th birthday. His name is Joshua. He has brown hair and big brown eyes. I love and miss him so much. We love to play football and go to the swimming pool in the summer. He is learning Karate and sometimes he would try to teach me, but I was really bad. Olivia will be 4 in December, she is only 6 days older than Alexis. Olivia has blonde hair and blue eyes. She loves to sing and dance, she is also a major drama queen. And then there is Molly, she has brown curly hair with bright blue eyes. Molly will be turning 1 in december. She is just learning to walk, and her brother and sister love to try and help her.

My sister Tanya is not marriend, but does live in Kansas also. Tanya is my best friend in the whole world. She is only 2 years older then me. She is in college studying to be an engineer. She can sing and play the piano beautifully. I think she has been playing since she was 7 years old. Tanya and I enjoy going to movies and shopping at the mall. I miss the times when we would laugh so hard our sides would hurt.

I hope all is going well with each of you and that you too are learning new things......even its not Spanish ;). Love and Thanks!!! In His Service, Bre (my new Spanish name)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Be strong and courageous!"

One of the 40/40's (her name is Windy) from cohort 1 who is currently studying in Iquitos had to come to Arequipa for medical treatment (no worries it's just a spider bite;)). So last night at our devotional time Windy took the time showed us pictures of life in the jungle and answer any questions we had. And as I'm sure you can guess we had many questions, like..."what will we be eating?, how do we wash our clothes?, and how will we commutate with our friends and family?". She also warned us that school is very difficult and we will have lots of homework. I mean come on college is hard enough when it's taught in English let alone when it's taught in Spanish. :)

Windy said she had a really hard time adjusting and was very close to leaving several times. She said the only thing that kept her from leaving was that she knew there were people supporting her and she couldn't let them down. Wow, do you all realize the impact you have in this ministry? Please don't ever doubt that you aren't being used by God to do GREAT things, because you are being used by Him!

After Windy had told us all of this I really started to freak the way this is not the first time I have freaked out, just ask my roommate. I have to remind myself everyday of why I'm here and who it is that got me to this place and I'm not just referring to God, I'm talking about each and everyone of you who are supporting me in prayer and founds.

Today after school I was reading in Joshua chapter 1 and was very encouraged by God's words to Joshua in verses 5-9 where He said "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." I'm doing me best to not worry about the future and trying really hard to live in este momento (this moment, I wanted to throw in a little Spanish just so you all know that I really am learning the language). Helen Mallicoat wrote, "I was regretting he past and fearing the future. Suddenly my Lord was speaking: "My name is I am" He paused I waited. He continued, "when you live in the past with it's mistakes and regrets, it is hard. I am not there. My name is not I WAS. When you live in the future with its problems and fears, it is hard. I am not there. My name is not I WILL BE. When you live in this moment, it is not hard. I am here. My name is I AM."

May we all try to live moment by moment, trusting Christ as He leads us on this road called life.

Growing and learning new things everyday! Love Always, Brittany

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sometimes you don't need to understand the words...just the heart!

The first time I heard this song was my very first sunday here in Peru. The song brought tears to my eyes and I had no idea what she was saying but my heart was touched. Melissa and I were sitting waiting for Sunday school to start this morning and they started playing this song. I turned to Melissa and said "I love this song!", she agreed and so we were determined that before we left we would find out who the artist was. And we did her name is Marcela Gandara and the name of the song is Mas que un Anhelo (More than a Promise).

More than a promise, but a desire
We hunger for you,
Hungry to see you, meeting you,
In your presence live.

Fill us with your love, sir sasianos,
Give us more of your light, your fullness.

We just want to be with you,
We parted and more (Christ is your route)
With hearts, to you surrendered,
That never wavered.

Fill us with your love, sir sasianos,
Give us more of your light, your fullness.
Your presence is my food,
My portion, the sweetness that feeds the heart.

Fill us with your love, sir sasianos,
Give us more of your light, your fullness.

More than a promise, but a desire
We hunger for you ...

When I looked up the words I became so overwhelmed by the spirit. It's so hard to be away from everything and everyone you've ever known and on top of that everyone around you is speaking another language. Then on Sunday you go and sit in church for 3 hours where you understand NOTHING.....But then, the holy spirit speaks to you through a song, a picture of Christ carry the cross or a young child playing and all of the sudden your eyes and hears are open. Your heart is no longer sad but hungry for more of whatever it is you are feeling in that very moment.

I'm learning that you don't need to understand what the praise team is singing to to worship and you don't need to know what the pastor is saying to to hear his (or her) heart. God is growing me to heights I've never been before and opening my eyes to things I've yet to see.

Love Always,

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

2 Weeks in Peru

Wow, I can hardly believe I have been here two weeks now. We have had NO down time since we arrived, but some of this business is by our own choice.

Okay, so let me back up a little, we arrived in Arequipa on the 29th of Aug. While we are here in language school we (the 40/40's) have been divided into groups of 2 or 3 and placed with host families. Someone from our new family was at the school waiting to take us to our new homes on Saturday. Melissa (my roommate) and I are so lucky because we live right next to the school. Our host Mom could see that we were exhausted so she showed us right to our room and let us sleep a few hours.

On Sunday we went to our new church where I had some time to catch up on my journaling, this would be because I had no idea what the pastor was talking about :). Melissa and I went to the mall (yes, we have a mall here) and had KFC for lunch, not as good as my mom's taco salad but what can a girl expect for being in another country, right?

Monday morning we dove right into Spanish. We have classes de Lunes a Viernes (Monday through Friday) from 9am-1pm. I have two teachers Carlos and Elvira. Carlos works with Kevin, Drew and me on our grammar for 2 hours and then we have a 20 minute coffee break. After break Elvira works with us on our communication skills, they really have their work cut out for them, but I have yet to see them get really frustrated with us.

After class Melissa and I go home for lunch, which can sometimes last 2 hours. But, we really love our time around the table with our family; it's really improving our Spanish too. After lunch we usually had out on the town, we have our favorite little coffee shop (Cusco Coffee) where we like to go to do homework. It's a good 45 min walk but it always feels good after sitting all morning and after have a HUGE lunch.

I have to say that I love Arequipa, and I'm already thinking it will be so hard to leave in Nov. God has blessed me with a new family I love, the best roommate a girl could ask for and a beautiful new country I call home! Thank you everyone for your all your prayers, love and support! I would not be here if it hadn't been for each of you giving, I thank God for each and every one of you!!

Love Always,

P.S. I'm working on getting pictures on here, but am having lots of problems.