It is coming close to the end of January and so much has been happening God is doing so much in our team. First of all we are growing a bit. We are now 28 people.
I guess the last time I sent an update was while we were still in Bogota.
After we left Bogota we were making our way to Cali and made a stop in a small town called Anoliama. A church there had contacted us asking if we would be willing to come for a few days and they had accommodations for us. We felt the Lord say to stay there so we did. When we arrive we are greeted at a church with lunch, which is always a plus. The pastors of the church are very happy we are there and tell us that the church took up an offering for us so all of our meals and accommodations would be for free during our stay. God is so good to us. While in Anoliama we ministered in the church holding a youth service one night. We learned that the youth group had disintegrated after it was discovered that the youth pastor was a pronounced witch and had been cursing the youth. So we invited them all to come back and we blessed them and prayed over them and really saw God move. Later on in the week we held another service and ministered in a senior citizens home where we stayed. The whole team was very blessed by our time there.
As our team has been traveling God has been doing a lot in each of our hearts and one thing I asked for before I embarked on this journey was for God to teach me how to make the ministry He has for me a lifestyle and not just a job or a hobby. I can see God doing that. We no longer are just ministering when there is ministry time set up. It is becoming a lifestyle and as we are going a long I am slowly understanding how this is going to apply in my everyday life where ever God sends me or has me do!
We left Anoliama on a Sunday and headed for Cali. A girl from Cali, Maria, who was in Harvest school 14 (Iris Ministries mission school) and has been with us for most of our time here in Colombia, offered to let us stay at her families farm on a coffee plantation in out skirts of Armenia a little over half way to Cali from Bogota. When we arrive we are all exhausted from driving for about 15 hours that day, but are greeted by Maria and her family (who are not Christians). So we sat up camp some people slept in tents and we had the pop-ups. On the farm there are lots of cows they milk (these cows taught me a lot about patients every morning when they would be getting milked and feed at 5am making noises I was sure were some kind of dinosaur or some other extinct animal), and horses that they raise for dancing (kind of like Tennessee walking horses) and its all in the mountains on a coffee plantation. The next day Maria's family leaves after we all have a huge barbeque together and we are left with the most amazing house. We stayed again in a place for free! We stayed there for 5 days and ministered in whatever way God lead. The team as a whole has also come to the conclusion that ministering is not just for the people we are driving to. We have to continually be ministering to each other blessing each other and ourselves. Because only out of a place of intimacy with God can we minister to others!
We did get the opportunity to drive into the city of Armenia one night and minister to the homeless and really anyone we ran into while walking on the streets. We met some of the most amazing people, but it was very heart breaking to see this huge spirit of homosexuality that has taken captive of the city. I mean blatant homosexuality. Almost every homeless man we talked to and every teenage boy we passed was gay. My heart really broke for this city and for one little boy imparticular He was 8 years old and had no family. He just lived on the streets begging for money. I wanted so bad to take him home with me. One man we met who was homeless a few people in my group began to pray for him and he was so blessed and told us that it was his birthday and he excepted Jesus into his heart. We had a really sweet time that night. While in Armenia I was able to milk a cow, go horse back riding in the mountains, and spend a lot of good time with Jesus in some fruit trees by a private pool over looking all of the coffee plantation. The places God has brought us to have literally been amazing.
On Friday the 13th we left for Cali for real this time! It was about a 7 or 8 hour drive and I slept basically the entire way. We arrive at the church in Cali where our contact is and are greeted by the pastor and he leads us to where we are staying for the next 10 days. I think this is the longest we have stayed in place in a long time, but that was just a side note. The pastor tells us where we are staying is a farm and everything is taken care of including 3 meals a day. So once again God's favor is just lavished on us! When We arrive it is no farm.... Not like you would imagine. With over 109 beds to choose from, our own pool, the most incredible view of the mountains and city, and plenty of space to get alone time (which is crucial for a group like ours) the team couldn't help, but feel the tangible love and favor of God manifesting on us.
That next Sunday we held the service at the very large church and it was amazing first service we spoke and had a giant fire tunnel and second service we just followed Holy spirit and one of our brothers, Ben, did most of the speaking and It was amazing Holy Spirit fell and the entire church was so blessed. Later on in the week we had different ministry opportunities like women's jail, a village about a 4 hour bus ride away and ministering to prostitutes and transvestites at night. I felt the okay to stay in and spend lots of time with Jesus and really just get filled up. I did however go on Thursday night to Minister in the streets of Cali to the prostitutes and transvestites and it was such an amazing time. The women and men really let us bless them and love one them the way Jesus would. Also met some awesome homeless people in the neighborhood. Like Oliver. He was born in Colombia, but raised in the US his mother is American and he later moved back to Colombia because of his heroin addiction. We talked with Oliver for a long while and prayed for him. At one point we told him Jesus loved him so much and he responded with “well you know I am a heroin addict.” to which we were able to reply with more love and told him it doesn't matter in the least bit. He teared up a lot and went on his way, but God surely has something in store for him and I will continue to always pray for him!
We were supposed to leave Saturday the 26th however, we had an accident one day in OverFlow (our Suburban) involving a slippery down hill road and a fence. Needless to say we were delayed until the 30th of January. Giving us plenty of time to really rest as well as get most of the many vehicle problems we had on all the vehicles taken care of.
During the week we were able to meet with Ruth … the wife of Cali, Colombia's biggest revivalist. Her husband Julio, was martyred in 1995 when 2 hit men shot him on the street, but his ministry is stilled carried on by his wife and 2 daughters. Ruth came to the house we were staying at and gave us a question and answer time as well as asked us to speak at her church that night. So we were more than happy to do so. At the service, which was originally supposed to be a seminar on Marriage and sex, we worshiped and shared and Holy Spirit really fell I got to share a word God was giving me about the church and at the end Ruth and her team prayed for us and our journey. Giving us 50 copies of a new book that her husband had started before he had died and it just got finished she gave us a whole box full and told us we could sell the copies and use the money to help fund our journey.
The pastor of the church. Pastor Diego, is one of the kindest men I have ever met his family is so beautiful and he reminded me a lot of my own Pastor. Which really made me miss home a whole lot. Their family blessed us in so many ways. Financially and spiritually. Along with Maria Claira who owned the retreat house we stayed in and lived in a beautiful little cottage right beside it with her family. Colombians are some of the most gracious, loving, and kind people I have ever met.
During our few days of rest me and another girl on the team began to read Redeeming Love by Francien Rivers out loud to one another. At times we would have 4 and 5 other girls who had already ready it listening. We had some really nice bonding time. I read the majority of the 500 page book out loud and loved every second of it.
We found out the day we left that 3 days earlier 4 gorillas (I know this isn't the correct spelling, but I can't remember), the rebel group, had been captured in the river just below the hill, a miles walk, from where we had been staying. Another testimony of God's amazing protection over us.
Colombia was amazing in general and we had so much fun in the Salsa capital, but I think we all knew it was about our time to head out to our next destination. I am sure I can speak for the whole team when I say Colombia will be missed very much and some of us will be back within the years to come.
We are finally in Ecuador! After waiting for 4 days not knowing when we were actually going to leave, 2 days of travel and one of the easiest border crossings we have ever experienced we made it at 2am February 1, 2012. We had some trouble along the way like the brake lights on the pop up not working the morning we got up to leave, then spending the night in a motel 2 hours from the border. Getting up to leave and the Axle breaking on the other pop-up delaying us about 6hours, and getting a little lost part of the way. However, we made it! And God is amazing I can not wait to see what God has in store for us in the next 2-3 weeks here in Ecuador. Lots of unreached people group outreaches in the jungles is what we are all hoping for. Team as a whole is getting a little antsy being in so much city. Also its nice that the currency is U.S. Dollar.
Miss you family and friends. I hope you are all well. Thank you so much for all your prayers and support! They are very much needed and are so important. Just keep building up your store houses in heaven! As for me God has been doing a lot in my heart the past week and a lot of healing has come to my heart in areas I didn't even know I needed. The past 2 weeks were very emotional, but God used them for the best and I feel something even greater is coming in me and my heart. So please keep your prayers coming.
We leave on Friday for the Jungles of Ecuador! We want to go as deep into the jungles as possible to the villages that have never been reached! Going to a lot of bus rides, long boat rides, and a lot of walking.
So much Love, and So many blessings,