Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sharing the Gospel at a Spanish speech tournament

ECA had the opportunity to send a couple students from each grade to a Spanish speech tournament held at a local k-12 school. Marlayna (and Elleazah) had the opportunity to go with the students to the school to compete. Many of the students had a sermon or devotional prepared to share with the other students in the room which they were competing against, as well as the judges who were ranking the presentations.  It was very encouraging to see the boldness in which the students presented, not only with public speaking, asking the group to pray prior to presenting, and then speaking God’s word without wavering.  These students used a speech completion as a platform in which to share God’s truth to their community. Praise God for such an opportunity to scatter the seeds of truth in this city.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Staff Retreat

This past weekend, we went on the all staff retreat to a ‘resort’ about an hour outside the city.  It was a wonderful time of fellowship, encouragement from the different speakers, and relaxation. Plus it was nice to just get out of the city, the noise, pollution, and daily grind of Bogota for just a couple days. We thank God for the opportunity to go on the retreat.

While on the retreat, we had taken a personality test and then discussed with some the people we work with about our tendencies (strengths, weaknesses) in hopes to improve unity and communication among the staff. Often times in a close, multi- cultural community such as ours (a Christian, American school culture within another culture) feelings are often hurt unintentionally. This was the first time the school board decided that everyone who worked at the school needed to go on this retreat together. With everyone present, the speakers spoke about Biblical methods of reconciliation to prevent disunity amongst the staff and for reconciliation to take place between staff members whose relationships have been fractured.  We also heard about the importance of encouragement rather than having a critical attitude, which was a great reminder for us. We often find it easier to point out what WE think is wrong rather than finding the good in others.
During the couple hours of free time we had, we walked the campus, played a little volleyball with some of the ECA staff and went swimming in the pool.  At first, Elleazah didn’t like the cold pool water, but once we sat still and let the shallow water around us heat up (due to our body heat), she enjoyed the water, which is a praise! Elleazah doesn’t have many opportunities to sit in water, we have a small shower at our apartment and her “tub” is the equivalent of a shallow sink.

The weekend was wonderful and relaxing.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Ministry Outreach

As we work with the Junior class, we have been able to talk with some of the students about the outreach ministry they had chosen to minister to throughout their high school years.  We have found that some of the students are excited about the ministry, and other are less than excited.  The ministry involves serving and loving on children in an orphanage with significant special health needs (as in some are unable to move, eat, or care for themselves without assistance.)
Two weeks ago, we were scheduled to serve at the orphanage but due to a miscommunication regarding transportation, we were unable to make it out to the orphanage.  So, we rescheduled for two weeks later (this weekend), only for the time to be canceled again.  I find it a little disappointing that we have yet to have a service project day and we are 6 weeks into the school year but realize God already knew the scheduling, it is not a surprise to Him, and His plan is perfect. Maybe God knew that we have had some rather busy weeks and now that we are not going to the orphanage this weekend, we may have a more relaxing weekend to be refreshed. Or, maybe He is giving us leaders an opportunity to have intentional conversations with those that are less enthusiastic about serving “those kids.” Sadly, some of the students are not wanting to go to the orphanage because it is too sad to see “those kids” who are not only unwanted but are outcasts due to their medical needs.  Some students say that they never have to interact with such needy and unresponsive kids during regular day because they are not out in society.  Such reasons to not go to the orphanage break my heart.  After all, Jesus spent significant time with those who were considered outcasts.

Please be praying for us as we continue to prepare to go to the orphanage and talk with the students, so that they will have ears to hear and hearts sensitive to the Holy Spirit and God’s love for “those kids.”

Friday, September 9, 2011

Progressive Dinner

As mentioned in a previous post, we have had some busy weekends.  The next two weekends are no exception.  But first,  I will go back share a little about last weekend.

The progressive dinner went well, praise God!  For appetizers, I had three girls help me prepare a starter food.  We took green platanos (plantines), shredded them, packed the shredded fruit into a golf ball sized sphere (flattened some of them) and then fried them.  We added a little salt and they were ready to eat, either dipping it into ketchup, mayo, or sprinkle with cheese.  They taste similar to hash browns. It was a simple but yummy treat.  Another great aspect of preparing this appetizer is that it gave us time to talk. As we shredded, packed and fried the fruit, I was able to talk with each of the girls, Laura, Natalie, and Camie. I learned a bit about their home life, school life, things they are excited about with the school year, and some of the struggles of being a junior.  From past experience, I have found some of the sweetest times of fellowship and discipleship have come in the kitchen.  I thank God for those times of encouragement and growth in my life and I pray that I may be used in a similar way (as Titus 2 explains).

After the rest of the Junior girls came over and inhaled our starter, we headed off to the main meal (pasta) with some amazing local fruit made into juice.  I love all the fruit here and variety of juice that can be made.  While talking with one of the girls about all the fruit for juice, she seemed rather impartial about the variety. I suppose it is something she has grown up with and doesn’t know much different compared to the idea of ‘seasonal fruit’ I am used to from the States.

Then we were off to dessert, we had a layered cake with pudding, ‘cool whip’,  ‘gram crackers’, and chocolate… very tasty.  I learned that Colombians have a sweet  tooth, but it is not for sweet, sweet things, only a soft, or mild sweet treat (sweet intensity of jell-o, or pudding). Plus, they always eat their dessert with a spoon.  We also started to discuss our end of the year service project, which is a long weekend we will take in May to “high- need” community to work in a school or orphanage.

Over all, the evening was a sweet time of fellowship as we kicked off the new school year!  Please continue to pray for us as we interact with this class and that discipleship will be fruitful.